I’ve made a decision to skip over the rest of this month. I mean, January is just a trial run. Not that I have anything against the two-faced Roman god; it’s just that I’m of the conviction that winter should be over once we’ve had our Christmas. Granted, temps have been a little above average, but let’s continue on to Spring, shall we?

With the month already half over, some people are still undecided on their New Year intentions and resolutions, and I’m curious how many sober-curious among us are participating in what’s known as Dry January. The commitment of going alcohol-free for one month, something with which the ghost of ax-wielding Carrie Nation would approve, I’m sure.

Alcohol free? No prob, I say. While I enjoy an occasional flagon of ale or a plop of brandy in my coffee, I am usually the designated driver.

Anyhow, if going a few weeks without alcohol sounds too radical, keep in mind something W.C. Fields once said, “Now don’t say you can’t swear off drinking. It’s easy. I’ve done it a thousand times.”

With that on my mind, I ran across a blurb in the Old Farmers Almanac, which predicts a trend of something called adaptogenic drinks, or “botanical-infused beverages,” that are supposed to help relieve stress without drinking alcohol. Just in time for Dry January? No?

OK, I know what you’re thinking, and I doubt you’ll be able to belly up to the bar and drown your sorrows with an ashwagandha on tap at the Cap. You’ll need to go to a health food store for that.

So, besides ashwagandha (you must say it slowly like a mantra … osh-wah-gan-duh, osh-wah-gan-duh … ), these drinks also can come infused with Rhodiola, ginseng, maca and holy basil, and have far-out names like TranQuini and Moon Juice. They’re all herbal, meaning it’ll cost you more than your favorite brewski, but aficionados report relaxation and are perfect for Dry January.

I have to insert here that I have indeed taken ashwagandha gummies for my intermittent sleep issues, and have to admit it’s given me discernable drowsiness. A bit of melatonin doesn’t hurt either.

Although sleep is one of those necessities of life, it’s all too often like comedian Stephen Wright when someone asked him, “Did you sleep good?” he said, “No, I made a few mistakes.”

With the CDC saying that up to one-third of us experience a problem falling asleep or maybe waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back (see “sleep debt” below), there are a jillion products for that.

If that’s not all, there’s another trend I learned about during the pandemic for those who have trouble falling asleep. I’ve mentioned ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) before, and it involves listening to a recording of tapping, crinkling paper, or someone’s cryptic whispering.

Yes, I tried it out from a Spotify playlist, and no, it didn’t take. I stayed awake trying to figure out what all that whispering was about. I was sure someone in my head was commanding me to go to the kitchen and finish off that Blue Bunny container in the freezer.

Luckily, I stumbled across a YouTube video of a Richard Feynman lecture on the Character of Physical Law, followed by one where he explains the double-slit experiment. I did, in fact, fall asleep, but I must admit I woke up dreaming about photons and jiggling atoms.

“What will they come up with next?” I ask rhetorically.

Elsewhere under the ASMR umbrella are the happy snoozing sounds of rain on the roof, ocean waves and ambient forest sounds.

But I digress. With this new year upon us, a bunch of new words and phrases have been added to the dictionary or have new meanings, thanks to pop culture. See if you can sneak some of these into your next conversation:
• Nearlywed. Someone in a life partnership, sometimes with no intention of ever marrying.
• Hellscape. A place or time that is unbearable.
• Antifragile. Becoming more robust when exposed to stressors, uncertainty, or risk.
• Northpaw. A baseball player who pitches right-handed.
• Latine. Instead of Latinx, Latino or Latina.
• Petfluencer. Someone who gets famous by posting innumerable images and videos of their pet.
• Cakeism. Wanting to have two good things simultaneously when this is impossible..
• Blursday. Any day not easily distinguished from other days or days seemingly running together—also Whoseday and Whensday.
• Sleep debt. When the amount of sleep one needs exceeds the time actually slept.
• Stress eating. Eating in response to stress, tension, or anxiety.
And my favorite:
• Snite. To wipe mucus from the nose, especially with the finger or thumb.
Apologies for putting that picture in your head.