Taking melatonin at bedtime makes little, if any, difference. I still take it because a doctor I trust told me it may help stave off dementia and Alzheimer's.
I've tried herbal supplements, too. No effect.
I've stayed away from prescription sleep aids because they are habit-forming, can have side effects, and tend to be less effective the longer you take them.
That's why I was happy to find a non-drug approach (and, no, I'm not selling anything). It's an app that uses brain entrainment to guide your brainwaves down to the levels associated with sleep. I've found that it helps me to get to sleep in the first place, and also to get back to sleep if I wake up in the middle of the night.
You can play this on a smartphone or tablet (I use an iPad) that you tuck under your pillow. Keep the volume just high enough to be able to hear the tones--it won't be loud enough to disturb anybody with whom you share a bed. If you have wireless earbuds that are comfortable enough, you can use those to get the stereo effect that is supposed to be what makes the process effective. But whether or not it's the placebo effect, the under-the-pillow placement works for me!
The app I use is called Binaural Beats Master Collection. It has tracks for general sleep induction, power nap, and from high stress to deep sleep. It lets you adjust the amount of time you want the selected track to play. You can click off the screen display to save battery power.
It also has settings for energy boosts, meditation, increased creativity, and ridding yourself of a headache. I haven't tried any of these yet, but I'll report back when I have.
The basic version just for sleep, Binaural Sleep Beats, is free and you can upgrade to the additional tracks if you like (at least that's true at the time of this writing).
This particular app combines the binaural tones with other sounds--not quite music but not annoying, either, at least to me. Some of the others available don't have music or additional sounds at all, while some use classical music (for instance, binaural Beethoven). It's a matter of finding which works best for you.
There are apps that claim to use the same principle to improve your IQ, prompt lucid dreams, increase your motivation, and lose weight. I'm more skeptical about those, but probably I'll try a few just out of curiosity.
There are similar apps available for Android and the other operating systems.
Some of you may remember that some time ago I wrote about using a brain machine. Those work in the same way, but add blinking lights to the sounds. I'm finding using the audio app much more convenient.
If you give one of these a try, please let me know whether it helps, either in the comments section or via email to [email protected]