My sleeping problems first started three years ago when I was taking a very demanding and stressful education. I had been sleeping to little for many years (6 hours), and I was often tired. However, this was not such a big problem. What triggered my sleeping problems was that I started thinking that I must sleep more, so I forced myself to bed early, in spite of still having homework which I had not done. And tada, there I was, lying in bed, thinking of the things I hadn't done, and I couldn't sleep. From there on, it escalated, and I started thinking about the fact that I could not sleep - which was sure to diminish my amount of sleep, sometimes to as little as an hour.
Fortunately, it stopped the moment that I finished that education. However, it has flared up again since whenever I have been stressed and started thinking "I wonder if I can sleep tonight", "I need to get enough sleep tonight", "I need to get x hours of sleep tonight, or else". This has kept me awake a lot. What usually triggers these thoughts is stress, mostly if I need to get up early.
I have read some different stuff about this recently, and I have just ordered some self-help book on the subject which I am sure will help a lot. However, I am confident that besides more regular sleeping habits, I really don't have much of a problem, i.e., it's not any physical, I don't need medication. I am pretty sure that what I need is to get rid of the thought that I cannot sleep, of that anxiety about what will happen in case I cannot sleep. I need to get to where I was before where I had confidence that I could sleep, and then, I am sure that my sleeping problems will go away.
However, once you have a thought, it is difficult to get rid of it. Therefore, I would like to ask if anyone has any strategies on how to do this. I know that thinking of something else is a good one. Also, I read that I shouldn't stay in bed for more than 30-45 minutes if I cannot sleep, so I will try doing something productive instead, like reading. It puts me at ease to feel that I get things done. But besides that, does anyone have any good strategies for this particular problem?