You and I are cut from the same cloth, Robert. Both high-output intellectuals, both stimulated by thought, getting off on ideas, both bladder-challenged (I was born with 2 1/2 kidneys, so I process liquids faster than most), both audio-sensitive foam earplug addicts. I made some easy changes to my lifestyle that put me out like a light in ten minutes every night. Take what you like.
I'll begin by skipping the nutritional stuff because you are a savvy, healthy dude who knows very well by now what stimulates your particular body and what doesn't. You've no doubt figured out just what you can get away with and what you can't. All I'll say on that subject is that it often changes over time, so check back in with yourself every year and see where you stand. You also know about stretching, yoga, etc. so we can omit that, too. Keep the bed in the bedroom.
All this means is to use the bedroom only for sleeping (nocturnal team sports notwithstanding). Keep it simple, comfortable, and relaxing in there. Get rid of the television, don't bring in any projects and spread them out on the bedspread, take all calls in another room, move your "nightstand reading" to the living room. This room is all about sleep. The reason your heart beats faster when it enters the weightroom is because it knows what's coming. Teach it to beat slower when you enter your bedroom because it knows what's coming. If you feel yourself nodding off in any other room, immediately repair to your bed and lay down. If you are on the road at a hotel, treat the hotel bed as the bedroom and don't lay on it until you are ready for sleep. Use the little desk and uncomfortable chair for paperwork and TV watching; it'll keep you from doing too much of either. Turn down the volume.
Cleanse your bedroom of everything not soothing and sleep related. Take an inventory of the colors you've got in there. Are they the same colors you wear to the gym? Don't confuse your cranium--select some muted, dark, and/or cool colors for the bedroom, instead. Change out red, yellow, orange, anything shiny or metallic or neon for blue, green, purple, grey, black, brushed metals, and wood. Ditch the Marvel comics bedspread of Spiderman springing out in a 3-D leap from the side of a building. Replace the 60 watt bulbs with 40 watts. Take down all sports and psychedelic posters. (If you really want a trip, put blue lights in your lamps. But not if this is the room you dress in for a date.) If you've got motivational messages taped around the room, put the invigorating ones on the walls and the relaxing ones on the ceiling. When you wake and sit up, you'll get pumped; when you lay back and gaze upwards, you'll wind down. Think seriously about some light blocking curtains. Do a mental cool down.
A brain like yours, getting off on going at high speeds all the time, is like an insanely valuable racehorse. It'll give you a lot of power running around the track but unless it learns the reins, it'll waste a lot of energy just trying to control itself in a hit or miss effort. I can see you've tried a lot of ways to just wear out the horse until it can't run anymore (I've tried all those, too) but trying to get yourself tired is making you tired. (wink, wink) And besides, you can get the horse to stop a lot easier than that. Brains learn through repetition, neurons that fire together wire together. So, design your own mental cool down to signal the end of the racing day and the beginning of the resting segment. DO THE SAME COOL DOWN EVERY NIGHT. Keep it simple, around twenty minutes. Look forward to it like a great program you have recorded to watch, a real treat. If you have trouble justifying this "lack of doing something," consider that the brain only stores what it's learned each day in the brain stem until it gets some good sleep (both REM and deep) during which it can file it away in the higher centers for later retrieval. Without sleep, it's like writing a masterpiece and then not saving it to disk, or doing a max day without giving muscle groups 24 hours off to repair all those microtears.
Anything that slows your heart rate and brain waves will work for a cool down, be creative. The key is to be aware of your own stimulation level and make adjustments. Here are some ingredients you can experiment with:Visualization and Guided or Freeform Meditation
When you remove your attention from what's around you and put it on something else, you literally enter a state of self-hypnosis. You can use this to rev up or rev down. Professional athletes practice a form called Visual Motor Rehearsal where they walk themselves through an intended result before they physically perform it. This is not what I'm talking about here. If you practice VMR and other visualization prep work in your business, do it before your mental cool down.
Instead, imagine a soothing place and still position for yourself (not moving or exercising) and engage as many of your senses as you can. A favorite of mine is a high mountain lake in the Rockies that I used to sit beside, utterly quiet. It was wild and remote, the air so clean that it smelled like snow year-round. The surface of that lake was as reflective as chrome and I'd watch the clouds move over me through the blue sky by gazing down into the water. I'd sit on a slab of sun-warmed granite and allow the heat to come into my legs from below while the sun made my cheeks and forehead tingle. The wind would play with my hair gently. An eagle always flew by and let go a muted little screech like a question. Time stopped. I had no age. I had no name. I was.
If you are not a visual person, a guided meditation CD or download on your iPod is very handy. Even a piece of soothing music will work as long as the down beat is slower than your normal resting heart rate. Your heart automatically entrains to whatever beat is around it. Visualization is even more powerful if you practice the same imagery every night. Your brain will learn to associate the repeated scenario with sleep, ratcheting itself back automatically more and more each night.Deep Breathing
A visualization like the one above usually brings the heart rate right down and deepens the breath but let's say you just got back from a stress-test-from-hell kind of a day. Better start by turning the knob to the left manually. Deep breathing is the most universal healing technique known to humankind. Every race, tribe, religion, etc. practices some form of it and for good reason. There's no learning curve, just sit or lay down and breath slowly and deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth. Then, do it again. Keep at it, making each breath a little slower and a little deeper until you've gotten up to ten breaths. Focus your attention on the sound of your breath in your ears and the feeling of your chest cavity expanding upwards and settling down again. You can tack on a visualization of bodily systems calming down, like capillaries dilating, muscle fibers lengthening, or brain waves smoothing out.Applause, Applause
If something has a hold of you emotionally, especially worry or fear or any kind, a cure-all trick is to review everything you've ever done that made you feel proud of yourself. This shifts you immediately from disempowerment to empowerment and allows you to unclench. It helps to visit things mentally that have nothing to do with the topic of worry or fear. For instance, when I have myself in a headlock over money, I like to remind myself how many mountains I've climbed in Colorado and remember a few of those summits. If I'm sick or weak, I review all the crazy people I've met over the past year and review the times we about burst a gut laughing about something. When I'm wallowing in loneliness, I revisit projects I've built and gardens I've planted.Let's Talk About Sex, Baby
Yeah, yeah, I know--you're supposed to be calming down
not getting all fired up. But if you can't focus on a happy mountain lake and even breathing isn't cutting it, there is one way to hijack your brain in about ten seconds. No, put your hand down. You can do this mentally. Just create a delicious, easy, amazing sexual fantasy out of thin air. Don't spend too much time on it, just focus on one peripheral body part to start with and move in obvious directions from there. For instance, he or she could start sucking on your finger and then begin licking hot skin further and further up your arm. Again, engage as many senses as you can. You can either keep it short and use it as way to short circuit an unwanted thought that has you down or you can...ahem...take it all the way. We all know how relaxing that
can be. But the point is that this is just another form of self-induced hypnosis that invokes an immediate change in the brain. Try this: next time you feel your anger rising in gridlock traffic, take a little side trip to the Playboy Mansion in your mind. Ten seconds and you'll forget all about the jerk who just cut you off. If you are using this technique as part of your mental cool down, tack on a little non-sexual visualization at the end of it: you may need a cool down from your cool down.
So, there's a few things off the top of my head. I have a lot more technical stuff and deeper meditations but I can already feel you getting sleepy. You're getting very, very sleepy....Zzzzzzzzzzzz