Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing

Photography Provided

I try to do what I can to ensure a good night’s sleep. I adhere to all the standbys including vigorous exercise during the day, avoidance of too much caffeine, not eating or drinking several hours prior to bedtime, and reading a book or magazine article just before dozing off in order to get my eyes heavy. All of this works, by the way you can check this out https://uksleeptablets.com/ to get some tips about good sleeping habits.

My problem is what I call the witching hour, which happens in the middle of the night, usually after I’ve had one full sleep cycle under my belt. In other words, after getting several hours of sleep, I wake up and my mind starts spinning. Let me assure you that the middle of the night is not the time you want to actively begin thinking, but my brain says otherwise, as every worry, anxiety, and decision I’ve made that day, week, month or year, taps at me like an annoying child pulling at my skirt.

I inevitably begin by stressing about whatever issue is bothering me the most, which, these days, tends to be the pandemic. The plethora of what-if scenarios usually keeps my brain popping for a good 30 to 60 minutes. After a while, however, my mind moves on to something else. For instance, I might spend 20 minutes dissecting a conversation I had with a colleague six months ago, or wondering what happened to my seventh-grade social studies teacher. I may second-guess my choice of bridesmaid dresses from decades ago or berate myself for that time I dropped my phone in the toilet. I may wrack my brain trying to come up with a word that, at the moment, escapes me, or stew about how much my car insurance will go up once my 16-year-old gets his license. Then I fly into a tailspin thinking about how I’ll never sleep again when my teenager starts driving. Then I loop back to my nightly coronavirus concerns, stressing about the monetary cutbacks our family has sustained since the start of the pandemic. And so it goes every night.

I learned long ago to face the clock in a different direction so I don’t actually know how much sleep I’m losing each night. I bought myself one of those cooling pillows so I don’t have to keep flipping the pillow over 50 times per night in search of the cold side. I even invested in a weighted blanket, as they are supposed to help calm the mind and reduce anxiety. I also invited tips from family and friends. My cousin Lisa has found that making a cup of herbal tea like passionflower helps to quiet the mind, enabling her to get some rest, as does engaging in meditation techniques while lying in bed.

All of this has helped, but I still wanted to consult an expert for professional suggestions on ways I and the rest of the world (because I know I’m not alone here) can curb insomnia. Jessica Neely, a licensed clinical social worker and counselor with Brownsburg Guidance & Counseling.

Insomnia makes it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep. Narcolepsy is a problem with your sleep cycles that causes sleep attacks during the day and periods of disrupted sleep at night. Both narcolepsy and insomnia can make you feel sleepy during the day. If you suffer from narcolepsy and it has started to affect you, try the new Natural Remedies for Narcolepsy which are also on sale online.

Center, has several tips for her clients:

Do a cool-down yoga routine before bed.

Stay off of electronics 30 to 60 minutes before bed.

Engage in a breathing exercise while lying flat in bed. Breathe in through your nose, slowly counting to four to five. Hold it in for four to five seconds. Breathe out through your mouth, slowly counting to four or five, then hold it out for another four to five seconds. Focusing on the counting and breathing deep (with your stomach raising, rather than your shoulders) helps to slow blood flow, relax your body and distract your brain.

Try contract-and-release exercises. Start at your toes – tighten as hard as possible for 10 to 15 seconds, then slowly release the tension. Do the same moving up the body – toes, calves, thighs, bottom, etc. After getting through all areas individually, do the same tension with the entire body for 10 to 15 seconds, then slowly release. Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth throughout this exercise.

Take melatonin 10 to 15 minutes before going to bed.

Count backward from a high number.

Count forward by 3s, 7s, etc. – any number that requires more concentration than 1s, 2s, 5s, and 10s.

“A life hack I learned recently is that pistachio nuts have a therapeutic amount of melatonin in them,” Neely adds. “Eating some before bed can help with falling asleep.”

So, I’m off to buy pistachio nuts. Wishing you all sweet dreams!

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