The solutions for people who feel they either can't get to sleep or can't get enough sleep continue to be elusive. Some ideas, however:
* Don't try. Walk the dog. Read.
* Take a drink of warm milk. (Dr. Wallace Mendelson cites a study that suggests Ovaltine is, in fact, useful.)
* Don't count sheep if you're not the type; this will make it worse. Don't count anything.
* Try alternately tightening and relaxing muscle groups in turn.
* Learn relaxation techniques.
* Try a couple of aspirins, if they don't irritate your stomach. Studies suggest aspirin has a genuine beneficial effect on the quality of sleep and may ease some subliminal pains keeping you awake.
* Try some L-Triptophan. Obtainable at health-food stores. A naturally occurring amino acid that seems to help some people some of the time, although it hasn't been seriously tested.
* Avoid coffee, tea, colas, alcohol; take no sleeping pills of any kind for more than one or two nights.
* Know that napping, of all things, is controversial. Some specialists feel it detracts from necessary night sleep; some think it helps catch up. But if that nap takes over when you don't want it to, see a doctor.
The best tip of all, says Dr. Stephen Targum of the Psychiatric Institute of Washington: "If the insomnia is persistent, get to a sleep center or sleep specialists for a thorough evaluation."
Other material available from:
* Project Sleep, Neurosciences Resources, National Institute of Mental Health, 5600 Fisher Lane, Rockville, Md. 20857. (Free.)
* Better Sleep Council. 1235 Jefferson Davis Hwy., Suite 607 Arlington, Va. 22202. (Send 50 cents.)
* Baltimore Sleep Disorders Center, 4940 Eastern Ave. Baltimore Md. 21224. (Free.)