Falling sleep fast is a good skill to learn. But if all that happens is you wake up again in the middle of the night and then spend hours trying to count sheep and fall back to sleep, that's not good news. Here are some ideas to help you not only fall sleep fast – without drugs or medication – but stay sleep through the night.

1. Do not drink alcohol before bed

Although alcohol can bring on drowsiness, it's not a good way to induce sleep on a regular basis. It can be detrimental on some levels and – depending on the amount of liquid you've drunk – can mean that your bladder signals to you that you just have to wake up to empty it.

2. Do not take caffeine too late

Caffeine – whether it's in coffee, soda or anything else – stimulates your body and stops it from falling asleep as fast as you'd like. It will also keep your mind ticking over too fast for a good night's sleep.

3. Darken your room

We sleep better in a dark room.

That means if your curtains or blinds “leak” outside light it could be worth getting a blackout liner to reduce the amount of light that works its way into your bedroom.

Also cover up any other sources of light – alarm clocks. standby buttons on televisions, that kind of thing. They all conspire to add light to your bedroom and keep you from either falling asleep fast or staying that way.

4. Keep to a routine

We're creatures of habit.

If you do not keep to a bedtime routine then your sleep will be disrupted as your body will be trying to work out whether you've just decided to take a power nap before going out or whether you have actually settled down to sleep for the night.

And it will worry about that as you sleep, increasing the chance that you'll wake up again in the middle of the night.

5. Learn to relax and unwind

A lot of sleep disturbance is due to us not relaxing enough.

If you are watching television or intentionally reading a book or something on the web too close to bedtime, your mind will not know that it's then allowed to immediately change mode and stop. It does not work that way, which is why we often find it hard to get to sleep after an intense day's work.

Chill out and relax before retiring to bed and you're automatically preparing yourself for a better night's sleep.