My sleep hygiene used to be really bad (staying up really late, needing naps to get through the day, and taking forever to fall asleep sometimes), but in my current situation, I don't ever see needing any artificial inducers for sleep.
I now fall asleep quickly and awaken just as quickly. I've chalked it up to getting older, but perhaps it's also lifestyle inadvertently shaping my sleeping patterns.
The lifestyle factors involved, for my case:
I don't exercise intentionally much, but I do walk around the city (most stops are very close to the subway.) I just got some new running shoes, I hope to start exercising more.
I also don't take naps, unless I'm sick or have a headache.
I dim my laptop screen dramatically sometime after sundown. Very dim. We have low-levels of lighting in my living room, where we spend our evenings, with a single lamp, I think it's a yellow fluorescent approximating the same output as a 60 watt incandescent bulb. My wife yells at me when I turn on the bright overhead fluorescent lights in the kitchen - they hurt her eyes.
I don't eat anything after 10:00 or so. Not sure if that makes a difference, but I don't like jumping into bed immediately after eating.
When my wife is ready to drag me to bed, she turns the lamp off (11:30 to midnight) and starts pulling on me (and I'll cooperate unless I'm in the middle of answering a very urgent question on the site). I naturally awaken every day around 7 or 8, perhaps motivated to check my StackOverflow rep changes. :)
Almost as soon as my head hits the pillow, I'm out.
Based on my experience, and relevant reading of pop-literature regarding common knowledge on this, my recommendations are, in order of my own perception of importance (first being most important):
- Dim your lights severely in the late evening. So dim you almost don't like it.
- Be ready for sleep. Not sleep-deprived, but having exhausted your waking hours for the day.
- Have at least some moderate exercise during the day.
- Don't eat right before bed.
- Have someone who needs sleep more than you regularly drag you to bed so your body stays used to the schedule.