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10 ways to get a good night’s sleep

Here are some useful tips for fighting insomnia by  Dr. Charlane Pereira e Rebello, Goa Streets’ wise and sassy psychologist.

1. Keep stress in check

Are you deeply stressed because you were passed over for a promotion by a 21-year-old punk? Are you worried that your daughter can’t seem to master simple addition let alone trigonometry? Does your mother-in-law give you hell about wearing hip-hugging jeans? Try stress management techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, meditation and art. Remember, unpleasant circumstances lie outside your control. But you alone can decide your response to major life stressors. Change your pessimistic attitude and adopt positive life perspectives. Let go of your worries as soon as you hit the sack.

2. Adopt a regular sleep schedule

If you go to bed at 7 pm one day and 3 am the next, with a different bed time every night of the week, you are putting your body – and your natural sleep patterns – through havoc. Stop it! Regularize your sleep schedule to the extent you can (if you cheat from time to time, worry not – as that will only keep you from falling asleep!) A good sleep schedule keeps your body in sync with the world and helps in facing life’s challenges head-on.


3. Know what not to eat and drink

Alcohol may relax you while you’re drinking it, but the truth is it’s a stimulant and too much of it at night can definitely interfere with sleep. Heavy foods can tax your digestive system and keep you awake, so keep it light and stop eating at least an hour before bed time. Even if you are a fanatic about your morning coffee, stop the caffeine intake by noon (that applies to Coke and Pepsi and even chocolate), so that by the time you retire all traces of this sleep-killing stimulant are gone. (Oh, and if you can don’t drink anything within two hours of bedtime, even water, as those middle-of-the-night bathroom visits are a major cause of sleep disruption).


4. Create a relaxing bedtime routine

Relaxing bedtime rituals are a MUST. A nice warm shower or a relaxing dip in that bathtub works wonders.  Listen to soft soothing piano music. Wind up your day with a favourite hobby. Grab a copy of ‘Better Homes and Gardens’ from your bedside table. Smile to yourself as you visualize DIY garden projects of making trellis or birdbaths. Or perhaps you could envision that fishing trip you loved so much on the high seas, or the warmth you feel in a loved one’s embrace. (It’s OK to let your mind flow to the mildly erotic, but don’t get too excited or you won’t be able to sleep!) A soft light from the table lamp with an easy-to-reach switch comes handy. You could also try deep breathing exercises.

5. Keep your furry bedmates out

Don’t let your furry felines and cute canines jump in your bed for the night. Studies show that pets disturb the slumber. No one’s saying you can’t give your huge Mastiff or your Persian cat a hug to calm your nerves. But is it really necessary to snuggle with these four-legged loved ones under the covers? If you’re serious about fighting insomnia, get them off the bed.


6. Stop checking your email or tuning in to Star Movies

Turn off your Android and Whatsapp when it is time to doze off. Even a single loud beep could wake you up from your deep slumber. You might find it extremely difficult to fall asleep again after you have read the message from your friend in Toronto saying “Hi there. I am getting married in 2 weeks.” Reduce your screen time before bed. Don’t check emails or watch television.


7. Turn off sneaky light sources

The light that is emitted from the phone (despite being on silent mode) could disturb your sleep. To best avoid the glow from such electronic devices, keep them away from your ‘ZZZZzzzz zone.’


8. Stay put if you wake up, or don’t

Do you wake up in the middle of night and have difficulty falling asleep again? For some of us, staying in bed while breathing deeply and visualizing happy moments works. For others, getting out of bed for a while to break the stress-inducing insomnia is just what the doctor ordered. Know yourself and what works best for you.

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9. Reserve the bed for sleeping and sex only

Yes, the bed is meant only for sleeping and sex. Work hassles or overwhelming house chores or plans for the next day should be discussed during the daytime. Follow this strictly. The body will learn to give out a very powerful cue: it is time to catch up on your much needed rest or get romantic.

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10. Take power naps

A few ZZzzzzs are beneficial for health. Don’t hesitate to take a 20 minute power nap. You could curl up on your sofa or hit the office desk for a snooze while others are busy at work. Known to rejuvenate the body, such short naps improve health, cognitive faculties, memory and learning, are good for the heart, and increase work output. When it comes to the benefits of a lovely afternoon siesta, it looks like our Goan ancestors had it right!