My memories of going to sleep as a child are of tossing and turning every night in bed.
My parents bought my brother a waterbed when he outgrew his twin bed. I thought I'd fall asleep quicker in a waterbed than my old mattress, so I pestered my parents endlessly until they relented and bought me a waterbed too. It didn't help.
I learned about self-hypnosis, lucid dreaming, and "mental imagery" when I was 17 years old. One style of self-hypnosis calls for relaxing the physical body, then relaxing the mind. I was fascinated by the prospects of "internal senses".
I tried to relax in chairs and on the bed (such as for a "nap") as best I could, but the only relaxation I experienced was fleeting. I'd feel good for a half a second, then I'd notice feeling good and I'd pop out of the relaxation and be stuck in my overly tense body once again.
Some of the web pages on dreaming (1999 or so) and books that I read talked about a "drifty-dreamy" hypnagogic state between sleep and wakefulness. I tried to relax as best I could in bed. I always passed out before I noticed anything.
I left for college the next year, and developed something like lupus (lots of inflammation). I thought I had an RSI, but the P.A. and M.D. at the campus health center said there was nothing wrong with me that a little exercise wouldn't fix. I didn't believe them, so I started my own search for answers.
Many years passed, and I eventually I ended up in the hands of a capable Osteopath who specialized in hands-on therapy. I told him my story: head trauma when I was 17 y.o., swelling and pain in forearms, etc. He did his thing, and over a course of about a year he gradually helped my body's structures move back into their proper place.
Other disciplines look at a bone that's out of place as if it's a problem. One maxim from early Osteopathy was that "muscles move bones, and nerves control muscles". So rather than directly popping a bone back into place, a skilled osteopath will evaluate a patient to see what causes a structure to be malpositioned.
The good doctor likened a case such as mine to peeling an onion: stored trauma comes off a layer at a time.
One night after a few months of regular treatments, I opened my mouth to brush my teeth and noticed that the constant clicking noise in my jaw (TMJ) was no longer present. I opened and closed my mouth a few times in disbelief. The clicking had been with me for about four years at that point...
I also noticed that I no longer had to "try" to relax in bed before I passed out - most nights I quickly fell asleep.
Good sleep comes from having a balanced body, and hands-on therapies are one way to restore balance.
One practice that can really be beneficial are specific mental exercises that alter the brainwaves to produce a state more conductive to sleep. These can take many forms, such as self hypnosis, binaural beats, meditation, and mental imagery exercises.
One good practice that can be done in bed (or in a nearby chair) is to review the day that's just passed. What did you do and what outcomes did you get? How did the action you took advance the long-term projects that you're working on?
If you did something that were not entirely beneficial, change the action in your mental review so that you got better results. While your mental adjustment doesn't change what actually happened, practice of the desired outcome helps you make better choices in the future.
After reviewing the day, plans can be made for the day to come. Then say mentally that you're going to count from 10 down to 1, and by the count of 1 you'll be deep asleep, allowing your other-than-conscious mind to integrate the day's lessons and preparing for the day to come.
Sometimes insomnia is simple, sometimes it's complex. There's always something that can be done to help an individual find refreshing sleep.
[addition 11/13/2011] Many people find that the Radial Appliance helps them find relaxation and rest (can I say it that way, without the FDA coming down on me?)... Furthermore, sometimes people don't rest because they're hypothyroid - synthroid [T4 only] is a poor treatment for hypothyroidism. Will have to visit this topic again in the future. Until then, if you're an insomniac please sign up for my free reports on the Radial Appliance site.