A couple of new—to me—products I am liking

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Even before Covid I was a compulsive hand-washer, and now I’m like twenty times more ardent about it, which can be quite drying for the skin. So I use this hand wash from C.O. Bigelow, which is lightly—and dreamily—scented, and very, very rich: it contains shea butter and sweet almond protein to keep your skin from getting all flaky and gross. My hands actually feel more moisturized after I wash them, which is a definite first. I like this stuff so much, in fact, that I just ordered the body wash version.

I have epic insomnia—like, nights when I literally get zero hours of sleep, and any advice you have to offer in the comments will be appreciated, but I also very much feel like I’ve tried everything. Some of it even helps, like this aromatherapy balm, which contains not only good old reliable lavender but also ylang ylang and palmaroso too. There’s a little chamomile in it, but that scent doesn’t overpower like it usually does in products of this kind. And if you slow down and really inhale it, deeply, several times and then also exhale deeply, you might feel a bit like you’d taken a klonopin. This stuff doesn’t put me to sleep, but it does take me to that drifting-off-and-drowsy place right at sleep’s gateway. And getting there is half the battle.

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58 Thoughts on A couple of new—to me—products I am liking
    LisaR
    13 Oct 2020
    9:47am

    The older I get, the more what I eat for dinner impacts my sleep. I do best with a simple dinner of a protein with vegetables, done eating by 7:00 / 7:30, at the latest (and if I’m slightly hungry at bedtime it somehow helps). If I have sugar, alcohol, heavy-carbs / pasta, etc., or eat later, I’ll be sure to have trouble falling asleep (not drowsy at all) and will wake up feeling hot and thirsty in the middle of the night (I can have anything to eat and drink with lunch or in the late afternoon and be fine). While I do still enjoy indulgent dinners from time to time, knowing that I’ll have a late night / bad sleep makes the consequences easier to manage.

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      kimbersam
      13 Oct 2020
      11:50am

      Oh same for me. I need a few hours between eating (lightly) and sleep. I’m an intermittent faster so I keep within my eating window, which ends at 6:30, which forces me to eat earlier and I think that may help w/ sleep.

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    Dara
    13 Oct 2020
    10:22pm

    So sorry about your insomnia. I love Belleruth Naparstek’s guided imagery programs. Everyone is different but her healthy sleep and other guided meditations have changed my life. Plus what a great name she has!

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      Kim France
      14 Oct 2020
      8:50am

      I dated her son!

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    JLW
    13 Oct 2020
    10:21am

    I started experiencing insomnia around age 45, after being a ‘light sleeper’ all my life; it was pretty bad for a while but has gotten better in the past 5-6 years, though it worsens when anxiety spikes due to work, personal, or pandemic; i use the following products….Rescue Plus Sleep Gummies, magnesium, and CBD (I’ve tried these brands: Equilibria and Elixinol); sleepytime tea or yogi bedtime tea; an eye mask, and sleepphones; what i listen to varies but the Sleep with Me podcast has worked; currently I’m listening to Peter Mayle’s “Provence A=Z” read by John Lee on my Libby app…agree with other commenters about the British voice…i just pick a random chapter and put on the timer for 60 minutes. I have found it helpful to have a backlog of books I’d be “happy” to listen to all night if need be. Also extremely helpful is a CBT-focused therapist (which I know isn’t an option for everyone) who has helped me try not to catastrophize.

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    Vicki
    12 Oct 2020
    10:49pm

    Just started listening to the podcast “ Nothing Much Happens” bedtime stories where, well, nothing much happens-but i did drift off.

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    Lori
    13 Oct 2020
    12:53am

    Yes! I strongly — to my own great surprise – – recommend acupuncture! I’ve had severe, severe, severe insomnia since I was 25, and it’s only gotten worse with perimenopause, and then even worse since covid-19. But a few weeks ago I began keeping weekly acupuncture appointments for a knee injury (only because worker’s comp was going to time out if I didn’t use it); and happened to mention to the clinician that insomnia was an issue, along with being a lifelong extreme night owl (DSPS). I don’t know what she did or how acupuncture works, but since that first appointment I’ve been hit every night by a miraculous wave of sleepiness around 11 (when normally I can’t sleep before 7 a.m. at the *earliest*, maybe to catch one to four hours total, all broken up into shallow snippets) – – and sleep straight for four or five hours, followed by another two or three, to get seven hours total, without having to struggle for 19 hours to accomplish it. Absolutely seems like magic!

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    L.J.
    12 Oct 2020
    10:31pm

    I love Sleep With Me podcast! The guy tells silly/boring stories. The first few minutes are an introduction to the show with lots of alliteration and dad jokes. This relaxes me and helps with my anxiety about going to bed. Then he tells a boring story. Sometimes he tells you a an entire TV episode, or reads the Trader Joe’s fearless flyer. Takes a few episodes to get used to it. Makes me feel less alone at night, and it helps me get back to sleep.

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    Gablesgirl
    12 Oct 2020
    8:04pm

    My insomnia last about 25 years. I tried everything. Now I sleep with an eye mask, mouth guard and ear plugs. I also take Trazodone. I would go 4-5 nights without sleep due to PTSD and anxiety. Drugs were the last resort but now I sleep well and wake up rested.

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    Amelia
    12 Oct 2020
    10:43am

    You’ve probably tried this in it’s various forms, but “square breathing” has helped me relax, and if not sleep, it has helped make sleep more likely. With closed eyes, visualize a square. As you inhale for the count of 4, one side of the square lights up. Then hold for 4- side 2, exhale for 4- side 3, and hold the exhale for 4- side 4. At this point the square is lit up in the color of your mind’s eye. Then shut off the light and repeat. You can totally change the count. 4 is a suggestion. Some people I know do 3, 5, whatever helps.

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    Amanda
    12 Oct 2020
    8:21am

    Insomnia is the worst! I’m sure you`ve tried everything, but just in case, I totally recommend yoga nidra. You can find videos on youtube and it’s worth a shot if you haven’t tried it.

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      L.J.
      12 Oct 2020
      10:24pm

      Nidra is amazing. It improves the quality of my life. Even if I don’t sleep, I feel more calm and focused when I do this practice, because I RESTED. Look up Hilary Jackendoff, she is my teacher. She has classes on insight timer app and has an email list with by donation classes.

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    Eloise
    12 Oct 2020
    8:27am

    Ohhh, both are super tempting. And, an unrelated fyi….got flowers this weekend and realized my vase game was worse than hurting (mason jars, anyone?) so I FINALLY bought this yesterday. The color combo was hard to track down almost a year after you posted it but was actually on sale this weekend, too! Won’t help w/current bouquet but…. https://www.article-london.com/products/hay-moroccan-vase-small-purple?glCountry=US&view=usd&variant=8658755715184&gclid=CjwKCAjw_Y_8BRBiEiwA5MCBJhTOJalJ_pbt6K5UCha-p5eKtkA-AEhFd3cT0kC83LUP31hPrs8F_BoCWuMQAvD_BwE

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    Dana D
    12 Oct 2020
    9:59am

    I agree with the waking early pointers here, and a strict schedule. Melatonin worked really well for a long time–through and two years after menopause. I wake between 5 and 6 and am exhausted by 8:30. Do the same on the weekends.

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    cw
    12 Oct 2020
    8:49am

    I’ve been going to sleep fine, but waking every single night between two and three unable to go back to sleep. It was suggested to me that I try doing my meditation when I wake up in the middle of the night to help take my spinning brain off the nightmare of our current reality and it does help. It doesn’t always put me right back to sleep, but I can relax enough to read and the reading helps me go back to sleep (as long as I read something that isn’t too deep or taxing or literary!). I will most definitely try this aromatherapy product!

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      rita
      12 Oct 2020
      11:36am

      I do the wakeup in the middle of the night thing too. My crutch for falling asleep (though my issue is brain that won’t shut up as opposed to actual insomnia) is podcasts. I know they make ones specifically for this purpose, but for me as long as it’s a relatively subdued solo narrator, it has worked well for me.

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    Mary
    12 Oct 2020
    8:51am

    I’m suffering from terrible insomnia these days too – blaming peri menopause.

    A lot of people swear by CBD oil, even those with major sleep disorders. Apparently you have to play around with the doses until you get it just right.

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    Fred
    12 Oct 2020
    8:53am

    https://www.orthomolecularproducts.com/botanicalmpm/

    It smells horrible and totally works.

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      Amy Clark
      13 Oct 2020
      8:24pm

      It must have Valerian root – that stuff is rank but it works!!

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    Emily M.
    12 Oct 2020
    8:57am

    I recommend CBT-i. It’s a free app that was developed at Stanford Medical School to help soldiers with PTSD related insomnia. It is not a panacea, but it has helped me track and maintain my sleep hygiene.
    I think that many of us are suffering from anxiety related insomnia caused by current events. Taking a break from the news can help.

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      L.J.
      12 Oct 2020
      10:25pm

      Is there a book you recommend on CTB-i? I have tried to find a therapist for this specifically, but none take insurance, and one session is $250!

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      Pamela Goldsteen
      12 Oct 2020
      12:38pm

      I second this. I have used this personally. When the protocol is followed carefully it is highly effective, with long lasting results. I am a psychotherapist and while CBT is not my orientation I bought the manual and have used this with my own clients, I think it’s that effective.

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    J
    12 Oct 2020
    9:38am

    I’m a bit of an expert in this arena. Herbs and yoga can help a little – but they don’t really cure insomnia. I have found there are only two things that help: forcing yourself to get up earlier than you want to – for me, 6am. It is unpleasant, but it works. If you’re an early bird, you may have to get up at 5am. You will be really tired at the end of the day, and at some point, your internal clock gets a little reset. However, even doing this, the act of going to bed and not waking til morning has eluded me, literally, for a decade. Which brings me to the only other thing that helps: zzzquil. I believe it has fewer
    long-term side effects than prescribed meds – though it is not ideal. In these times, however— for me, it’s worth it.

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      Mary
      12 Oct 2020
      9:48am

      Yes, I think a rigid sleep schedule is very important. You can’t sleep in, even on weekends!

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      Mimi A.
      12 Oct 2020
      11:14am

      Danger alert! My husband and I swore by ZzzQuil for years, but in fact it’s the same as Benadryl, just packaged differently by a clever marketer. More than one of our doctors has told us that a ZzzzQuil or Benadryl habit is very bad. Several studies and a report in the JAMA offer compelling evidence of a link between Benadryl and similar drugs and dementia and Alzheimer’s.

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    Allison
    12 Oct 2020
    9:58am

    Lush Sleepy Hand and Body Lotion is not my favorite scent but I feel like it works to at least calm me down especially if I’ve worked myself up doomscrolling through Twitter when I should be sleeping. If I’ve really had a rough night (thank you peri menopause) I’ll try to catch a 30 minute nap the next day. I’m pretty unapologetic about naps. I’ve always told my kids I can either take a quick nap or scream at everyone from dinner to bedtime, take your pick. I’ll take Olly Sleep which is melatonin and L-Theanine if I’ve had more than one bad sleep night and need a reset.

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    Cora
    12 Oct 2020
    11:13am

    Things that work for me: focusing on things I like to do, but are repetitive and just a little bit boring, like … sewing. I picture the next dress I’m going to sew in my minds eye, I think about the pattern, about which part goes where, where I’ll start, what kind of seams I’ll do, the more detail, the better. Usually I’m asleep long before I get to do the buttons 😉
    Also works with “cleaning the apartment” or “taking a walk with the dogs”.
    Probably unpopular opinion: Allow the dog to sleep in the bed. I’ve got two dachshunds and I sleep a lot better when one of them cuddles up next to me, they get super relaxed, warm and smell really nice and soothing (well, to me, at least …).

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    D.Morgendorffer
    12 Oct 2020
    11:02am

    Sticking to my ritual: no email after supper, a cup of lavender-chamomile-peppermint tea, a hot bath, reading a couple pages of poetry before turning out the light, having a pillow with good head and neck support, and most importantly, L-Theanine. Being married to someone who worked a nightshift and myself doing fertility treatments, I had to be on melatonin a good while, which often includes L-Theanine in the dosage. Through trial and error, I discovered that, once my sleep cycle had been set, the part of the melatonin supplement that helped was the L-Theanine. The L-Theanine helps me stay asleep and have a better, deeper sleep. So, now I just take L-Theanine. I mention this because it can be useful to know which component of a supplement has a specific effect. Though the rare times now I have a sleepless night, I just focus on doing diaphragmatic breathing, not with the intent of falling asleep, but to avoid the stress accompanying insomnia. Though, when I was still figuring out what worked for me, Rolf Sovik guided relaxation recordings were so helpful (such a soothing voice).

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      L.J.
      12 Oct 2020
      10:27pm

      L-theanine was recommended by my gyn. How did you determine your dosage/what is a good starting dosage?

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        D.Morgendorffer
        13 Oct 2020
        10:45am

        We’re in the second day of tree trimmers in our backyard so I only now saw this. For me, I got the 200 mg capsules in part because that was about the dosage of L-Theanine in my melatonin supplements so I knew that dosage met my personal threshold of effectiveness. However, I have an anxiety disorder so I’m not sure if I’m the person to go by. I myself would ask your gyn–and also ask if there are any brands your gyn would recommend for you.

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          G
          13 Oct 2020
          8:06pm

          A few suggestions:
          1. These melatonin gummies that come highly recommended on Costco online – https://www.costco.com/vitafusion-sleepwell-melatonin-3mg.%2c-250-sugar-free-gummies.product.100001253.html

          2. Headspace – 20 mins of their Sleep series. Even though it’s not suppose to make you fall asleep, it calms my mind when over active.

          3. Magnesium oil spray or other magnesium capsules.

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          L.J.
          13 Oct 2020
          2:58pm

          Thank you. I’ll ask her what she recommends. I hope the trimmers quiet down!

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            Amy Clark
            13 Oct 2020
            8:21pm

            I take one each of the Sleep and Calm Good Day chocolates every night and it really helps me get to sleep. I still have the occasional insomnia night but for the most part this covers it. The Calm ones have l-theanine…

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    Joannawnyc
    12 Oct 2020
    11:12am

    I don’t have any incredible new suggestions, but an eye mask, tooth guard and earplugs can help sometimes. Also CBDoil and diaphragmatic breathing. Have you done a sleep study?

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    Mamavalveeta03
    12 Oct 2020
    11:22am

    I’m so sorry, Kim – sleep deprivation is the worst! And it’s dangerous, too. Have you talked to a Dr about it? I’ve dealt with insomnia on and off since peri-menopause, but in earnest, over the past 4 yrs. I’ve gone the “highly medicated” route but that’s a slippery slope. I’ve finally landed on what works for me: Take a good long walk during the day, eat dinner on the earlier side, a hot bath with Epsom salts, and Chill CBD gummies. https://www.diamondcbd.com/products/chill-plus-delta-force-squares-gummies-1000x I SWEAR by them!

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      Mary
      12 Oct 2020
      3:40pm

      The Chill gummies are my next purchase.

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    Papersitter
    12 Oct 2020
    11:22am

    I use a Deep Sleep Hypnosis app on my phone on the nights I can’t fall asleep. I don’t have insomnia as such, but I have periods of weeks or months when falling to sleep is difficult (and sometimes impossible) and the app has helped me a lot. Anecdotally, I find that when I exercise regularly I fall to sleep more easily and when I wake in the middle of the I’m able to drop back to sleep quickly. Sleeping through the night is my current challenge – it’s rare enough that when I do I mark it down in my date book.

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    LisaC
    12 Oct 2020
    11:44am

    So sorry to hear about your insomnia – it’s the worst. When I had bouts of waking up at 1 AM every day, I took Sonata for about 4 months to get back on track. It works for about 4 hours, so it was good for my situation. I felt that it helped my body “remember” how to sleep. Since you’re having problems getting to sleep, you might need something different. I now take magnesium, which I feel gets me to a deeper sleep. Finally, I sleep longer and more deeply when I meditate regularly (my practice is TM). Hope you can find something that helps.

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    kimbersam
    12 Oct 2020
    11:46am

    The Calm app or any Sleep Stories podcast. Also, Yogi Stress Relief Lavender Tea.

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      Sleepless in DC
      12 Oct 2020
      3:31pm

      The Calm app is terrific. The sleep section contains various stories read to you by people with incredibly soporific voices … and the stories are winding stories with no plots, but perhaps I just never get to the plots since I am deeply asleep pretty quickly.

      Oh yes, and a Xanax.

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    Kiki
    12 Oct 2020
    12:06pm

    does anyone not suffer from insomnia at some point?? So many great suggestions here! Some nights, there’s nothing that can be done to help. But, one of my tricks that sometimes work is letting myself get super cold. Like, no covers starfish cold until I can hardly stand it. Then I cover up and as I warm up, I fall asleep.

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    Tanya Hahni
    12 Oct 2020
    12:08pm

    I haven’t seen it mentioned yet so I have to put my 2 cents in for masturbation. I don’t have a history of sleep problems but there are definitely nights that my brain doesn’t want to shut down and this almost always does the trick. I think it’s so interesting that I literally never see it suggested when this topic comes up. I hope you can get some good sleep soon, it does so much for the quality of life.

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    Tammy
    12 Oct 2020
    12:12pm

    Hi Kim,

    I recently came to Nature Made sleep 3 and so far it’s working well. I don’t need it every night but when I do it works well. The Calm app sleep stories has helped too. Good luck.

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      Tammy
      13 Oct 2020
      9:22pm

      Sorry it’s Nature’s Bounty not Nature Made.

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    Donna
    12 Oct 2020
    3:37pm

    I find CBD puts me to sleep and magnesium. Kiwis eaten before bed are thought to help too bc they contain sleep enhancing Seratonin but I haven’t tried it myself. I never had insomnia until recently and I just turned 45 so I blame peri, Covid stress and anxiety.

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    tdot
    12 Oct 2020
    3:37pm

    Please do a post/discussion on perimenopause. So many good suggestions in the comments. I’ve found Nature Calm supplement (magnesium)to help with sleep.

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    Sue Henderson
    12 Oct 2020
    2:26pm

    Sorry to hear about your insomnia, that really sucks. For the first time in my life (I’m 59) this year I had anxiety related insomnia , I’m now completely out of it and two things really helped me. Firstly I had several sessions of online hypnotherapy, we addressed the anxiety itself and the insomnia specifically. My therapist made recordings of parts of our sessions that I could listen to in the day and whilst falling asleep, hugely effective. Secondly I also recommend the Sleep Stories on the Calm app, you have to listen to the Harry Styles one, if you weren’t a fan before I can guarantee you will be after! Sweet dreams Kim x

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      Jen
      12 Oct 2020
      5:03pm

      That Harry Styles one is absolutely wonderful. I am now jealous of whomever gets to sleep with him!

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        Sue Henderson
        12 Oct 2020
        5:29pm

        Yes! Even though it’s entirely age inappropriate it’s so lovely, the bit about holding hands and L.O.V.E love…….

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    Sue
    12 Oct 2020
    12:34pm

    Along the podcast line, certain types of audiobooks have worked for me as well when I’ve been up fretting and too stressed out to sleep. I listen to audiobooks all the time, and they generally don’t make me go to sleep, but I discovered by accident that the act of listening lets my brain relax enough to go to sleep. What’s worked best is books without a strong plot and with a British narrator! The Audible version of Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals worked for months during a time when I was super stressed out and not sleeping. I’d set the sleep timer on Audible for 30 minutes and discovered that I fell asleep 5-10 minutes in, night after night (and usually closer to 5).

    The other thing that’s sometimes worked is making lists in my head of things that require me to think a bit but not about anything current or stressful. Like, can I name all the students on that semester abroad or can I name all the classes I took in college or something along those lines. The act of searching for those things seems to let my brain stop with the stuff that’s keeping me awake, and then I can usually fall asleep.

    But I should also say that I have more stress-induced occasional insomnia rather than general insomnia, so these tactics may not be enough.

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      kimbersam
      12 Oct 2020
      3:46pm

      I am with you on the ‘British voices are relaxing.”

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      Stephanie
      12 Oct 2020
      3:28pm

      This is exactly what I was going to say — the Audible app, which has a sleep timer, and a book that is just interesting enough that you want to listen to it but not so exciting it’ll get you all wound up. (My current fall-asleep listen is a history of the human relationship to objects and commodities: Frant Trentmann, “Empire of Things.” I have 15 hours left to go out of I-don’t-know how many. It’s interesting, but it also knocks me right out, usually.) Meditation and sleep-oriented podcasts are too boring for me, and they don’t have the sleep timer. On the rate occasions the book doesn’t work, I take half a clonezapam and call it a night.

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      Pam
      12 Oct 2020
      5:40pm

      Me too, me too! I have really bad insomnia, the only thing that I have found to be helpful is listening to audiobooks. It has to be just the right kind of audiobook, soothing voice (preferably British), and plots that aren’t too complicated or disturbing in any way. My personal preference is history that walks the line between interesting and boring, and historical fiction but I’ve had good luck with some classics and some of the BBC radio dramas.

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    Debra K
    12 Oct 2020
    12:44pm

    20 mg CBD tablet + 5 mg THC gummy has been the only thing that has worked for me. I take it an hour before bedtime and I get 6 hours of decent sleep. The best part is that even though I still wake up to pee at least once, I fall right back asleep when I get back in bed. Took a few tries to get the dosage right. I don’t wake up groggy – Ambien, Excedrin PM, ZQuil I’m looking at you. The cost per use of the CBD+THC is about $3 a day (I’m in California and 25% of that cost is just tax! – insane). Good luck with your search, I hope you find something that works for you!!!

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    Julie
    12 Oct 2020
    1:15pm

    Sleep with Me podcast and DUSK (https://www.gossamerdusk.com/) have been very helpful, but I am still looking for that magic cure…

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    elise
    12 Oct 2020
    6:32pm

    I’ve tried many melatonin-free products and currently using this one: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B085VKND18/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 (Ceramiracle O’Cali Nature Cuddly Dreams Supplement) in case link doesn’t work. Seems to work quite well – just ordered for a second time. ZZQuil gives me seriously freaky dreams 🙁

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    Jen
    12 Oct 2020
    5:01pm

    Another vote here from SLEEP STORIES (available on a couple different apps). I thought my friends were DEMENTED for recommending them, but one night after too many nights of not sleeping, I downloaded Calm and listened to a story about a train in Norway. I fell asleep within five minutes. Now I use them whenever I can’t sleep. And let me tell you, I am historically a terrible sleeper – I have seen more than one doctor and tried all the melatonin, THC, and CBD under the sun. Nothing has worked like sleep stories.

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      Sue Henderson
      13 Oct 2020
      9:29am

      All the stories about trains on Calm are lovely, if you haven’t listened to the one about the Orient Express, give it a go.

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Kim France

I was born in Houston, Texas in 1964 and have lived in New York City since 1988. I had a long career in magazines, working at Sassy, Elle, New York, and Spin, and in 2000, I founded Lucky magazine, which I edited for ten years.

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