7 Natural Ways to Get Better Sleep Without Medication

Finding natural ways to get better sleep without medication is important because almost everyone has trouble sleeping at some point in their life.

There’s a lot of focus on the amount of sleep (# of hours per night) we get but what about the constitution of that sleep? In terms of sleep, it is not just the quantity of sleep but also the quality. The age old question of, “How many hours are you sleeping at night?” is likely not as indicative as, “How well do you sleep at night?”

Thousands knowingly suffer from insomnia but perhaps just as problematic is the less overt “poor sleeper” whose health is negatively impacted by poor sleep without their knowledge. In fact, upwards of 70 million Americans (29% of our adult population) suffer from a lack of sleep or poor sleep quality.We’ve documented the overmedication of Americans and sleep aids are no exception as 9 million Americans (4% of US adult population) use prescription sleep medication despite the inherent risks.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There are several natural ways to get better sleep without medication:

Natural Ways to Get Better Sleep Without Medication

1. Create Absolute Darkness in your room

A recent study showed that event he subtle light of a laser pointer disrupted the sleep of the survey participants. Light disturbs the body’s production of melatonin which is a sleep regulating hormone that your body naturally produces. Sanjeev Kothare, M.D., director of the pediatric sleep program at NYU Langone Medical Center calls melatonin, “the hormone of the dark” because the body produces late in the day as it gets darker in your environment. By exposing your body to light in the form of TV, cell phones, etc., you are confusing your body’s natural daily cyclical functioning by not allowing it to produce the proper amount of melatonin. So ditch night light and if you insist on having your cell phone in your room, keep it face down so that it does not emit light during the night.

2. Restorative Yoga Poses or Meditation Before Bed

Standing forward bend, Seated forward bend, Happy Baby, and Seated Twists are just a few of the dozens of helpful yoga poses that can be practiced before bed. Studies have shown that those who practice yoga and/or meditation get more sleep and better quality sleep. Do a few restorative poses to induce relaxation and to calm your central nervous system.

3. Drink Herbal Tea

In the US, Chamomile Tea is the most well known tea. It works. Peppermint, Spearmint, Licorice Root are also good for promoting restful sleep. Yogi Tea makes a good, natural, non GMO blend for sleep induction.

4. Make Sure Your Sleeping Environment is as Silent as Possible

Sleeping with a television should be avoided. By sleeping with the TV on, the quality of your rest is compromised. Your brain is subconsciously attempting to interpret the chatter of the TV show and hundreds of commercials that you’re exposing it to. It’s no wonder that even if those who fall asleep with the TV get the same # of hours of sleep, they don’t experience the same quality of sleep.

5. Deep Exhales

Inhale through your nose for a count of 3 seconds. Exhale through your nose for a count of 6 seconds. Doubling the amount of time on the exhales has been proven to decrease stress and help with relaxation.

6. Keep the Room Cold

You know that feeling in the morning when you don’t want to get out of bed because your room is cold and your bed is warm? Recreate this every night. If you’re able to control the temperature in your room, keep the temperature below 70 degrees Fahrenheit, 21 degrees Celsius. Can you ever recall getting a good night sleep while you were sweating or the temperature was too hot? Me either.

7. Put the cell phone and computer away at least one hour before bed

One of the best practices for getting quality sleep is to put your cell phone in airplane mode before going to sleep. Checking the barrage of incoming messages and advertisements on your cell phone right before bed can cause stress and decrease relaxation. Make sure to totally “shut it down” before you hit the sack 😉 Instead of looking on Facebook or texting, you might take 10 minutes to journal, pray, or reflect on the beautiful things in your life.

Hope you can implement these tips to get better sleep without medication. Please let us know if you have any other ideas on how we can all get better quality sleep. :)

Seven Benefits of Vegan Lifestyle

There are so many benefits of vegan lifestyle. People often focus on what vegans do not eat but it’s also important to consider what vegans do eat! A healthy vegan means consuming vast amounts of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and grains. Be careful with vegan desserts as they can contain high fats and sugars. Sticking with REAL vegan foods are the most beneficial and here’s why:

Seven Benefits of Vegan Lifestyle

1. Easier Digestion

Many fruits and vegetables are non acidic which is easier on the digestive tract. In contrast, processed, acidic meats are harder on the stomach. Raw vegetables are also rich in enzymes which increase the level of digestion in the stomach leading to better absorption of nutrients. Forget the bloating and sluggish feelings because eating vegan will allow your body the optimum level of energy you deserve!

2. Eliminating Dietary Cholesterol

Plant based foods have little to no cholesterol. In fact, plant based foods improve liver function which is where cholesterol is produced. Avocados, walnuts, beans, and oats are all great foods to fight high cholesterol.

3. Decrease in Body Odor

What leaves your body reflects what enters into your body. Manufactured foods and red meat are the culprits of bad body odor. Toxins are excreted through sweat glands in the armpits. By eating clean vegan foods, your body will naturally have less toxic build up.

4. Low Caloric Intake

Vegan foods have far less calories than meats. Compare a cup of lentil soup vs. a hamburger with the bun.

1 C. of lentil soup = 186 calories with over 10g of protein and 5g of total fat.

1 hamburger with the bun = 270 calories with 14g of protein and 11g of total fat.

Although the hamburger has more protein, the lentil soup provides a sufficient amount of protein and far less fat content and calories. This is only one example of many vegan foods with great nutrients and low calorie intake.

5. Preventing Heart Disease.

Eliminating dairy and meat improves cardiovascular health and decreases the chances of heart disease (the most common cause of death in the West). Practicing healthy living habits like getting outdoor exercise also prevent heart disease. Start growing a garden outside full of vegetables which will definitely get you outdoors every day!

6. Increased Energy

Eating alkaline plant based foods provide the body with more energy. By abstaining from meat, eggs, dairy, refined sugars, white flour, and alcohol the body can maintain a balanced pH level. By eating vegan foods our body does not have to take important minerals (calcium, phosphorus and magnesium) from our bones, teeth and organs in order to stay balanced like acidic diets do.

7. A Natural Way to Consume Fiber

Beans and legumes provide high fiber (averaging 15g per cup!) Additionally, raspberries, bananas, apples, oranges and strawberries are great sources of fiber. By eating these vegan foods, the body can protect against colon cancer and lead to healthier bowel movements. The body’s blood is also cleansed by consuming fiber.

Added Bonus:

Refraining from eating meat is a practice of ahimsa and kindness towards animals.

I hope transitioning to a vegan lifestyle is easier now knowing these seven amazing benefits! If you’re new, start slow by adding in fruit for breakfast or these vegan gluten free banana pancakes. Remember, clean eating is happy living! :)


La, Paz Bolivia – spending $25 per day in this Andes covered city is cake!


If you are looking for a destination that is full of diverse attractions and activities, Bolivia is a perfect choice for your next adventure.

In Bolivia, you can easily spend less than $25 USD per day, eat extremely well and enjoy landscapes that photographs can’t do justice. The Bolivian destination cities that we suggest are: La Paz (a major city nestled in the snowcapped Andes Mountains), Copacabana (set on Lake Titicaca, the World’s highest accessible lake), Potosi (home of the most famous mine in the world), Sucre (Bolivia’s white-washed historical capital), and Uyuni (one of the BEST sites in the World, previously being a dinosaur stomping ground and now offering the unlike-anything-you’ll-ever-see Salt Flats).

Today, we’re discussing “A day in La Paz” – a place where $25 USD goes a long, long way. If you have the opportunity – especially if you are already traveling in South America – get to La Paz!!

We arrived in the “other Bolivian capital” on a bus from Copacabana, Bolivia. On the ride in, the scenery was fantastic. We passed between snowcapped mountains, lakes, and never-ending green pastures. The road into the city has been recently reconstructed, and if it wasn’t already there you would feel like you were the first person to catch a glimpse this land. It really is that bare in terms of development.

If we were to pick a way to spend a single day in La Paz, I would advise the following:

Start your day by catching the free walking tour with Red Cap Tours. The tour begins outside the San Pedro Prison, a prison where inmates (along with their wives and children!) infamously rent “cells” equivalent to hotel suites. From there, Red Cap walks you all over the city providing great bits of information that you won’t find in your Lonely Planet book. The tour incorporates the always interesting “Witch’s Market” and ends by taking an elevator up to observation tower of La Paz’s five-star hotel. This incredible view of the snowcapped Andes looming over the World’s Highest National Capital is all yours, free. The guides are great and gladly accept tips. The tour lasts around two to three hours.


After the tour (you can bail out at any time), we highly recommend grabbing lunch at the number one ranked restaurant in La Paz, the vegetarian and vegan-friendly Namas Te. Healthy food and great fruit juices make this place a staple for locals and travelers alike. A delicious and hearty meal will set you back about $5 USD.

If you have time for another great activity, take a local “colectivo”, a big white shared passenger van, to the Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley) on the outskirts of the city. Nature-lovers and photographers will especially appreciate this daytrip. It is rumored that the Moon Valley got its name when Neil Armstrong visited and stated that the unearthly landscapes here looked just like those he’d seen on the moon. Admission into the park costs less than $3 USD and, with set prices clearly marked on the colectivo shared taxis, transportation costs less than $1 USD each way.


To end your night, choose one of many typical Bolivian restaurants offering a “menu del dia”, which will set you back $2-4 USD. Most serve a great homemade soup (usually chicken, quinoa, or vegetable), and a main course of fish, meat, or chicken. If you have any energy left, the shopping stalls near the Plaza de Armas are incredible for a budget traveler. You will literally find anything and everything at extra cheap prices.

La Paz has so much more to offer. More markets, more nature, and more good food than you can possibly discover in just a couple of days. Follow this guide for a first day scraping the surface of this affordable metropolis. We had a ball walking around the city, exploring the markets, and just gazing up at the Andes. The snowcaps never get old!

Shenzhen China Travel

Shenzhen China airport transportation

Shenzhen China Travel

Shenzhen is a vibrant major Chinese southern city neighboring Hong Kong. With a population of 15 million people, the city contains a diverse group of people with a large expat community. There are tons of places to eat, shop, and meet interesting people (including those who speak English)!

Chinese transportation is so easy and advanced which makes traveling to Shenzhen China a cinch! Take an 11 hour bullet train ride from Shanghai or an even easier 30 minute train ride from Guangzhou. If you’re like me and visit Shenzhen from north of Shanghai (i.e. Beijing or Jinan), domestic flights are quite cheap and will only take you a couple hours.

Jinan to Shenzhen China

My route from Jinan to Shenzhen

Top 5 things to do in Shenzhen China:

1. Xiaomeisha Beach Shenzhen.

This is an easy 35 minute public bus ride out of main town LuoHu district. It will cost 5 kwai to get there and another 5 kwai back. There are two Meisha beaches: Dameisha and Xiaomeisha. I suggest Xiaomeisha as it is cleaner and less crowded, however, there is a 30 kwai ($5 USD) entrance fee whereas Dameisha is free. *Fun fact: Mei = beautiful and Sha = sand. So, put together it literally means Beautiful Sand!

XiaoMeisha Beach Shenzhen China

Xiaomeisha Beach Shenzhen China

Xiao Meisha Beach Shenzhen China

Did you know such beautiful beaches exist in China?

2. Dongmen Market.

Dongmen Market is small and very condensed area contains hundreds of knock off goods and street food. Many Chinese tourists come here to shop, enjoy food, and experience a fun time within the modern and ancient pagoda building architecture. At night, these streets are even more packed and lights brightly lit. Located right near Laojie metro station (Line 1 & Line 3) in Luohu District (1 hour from Shenzhen International Airport).

Travel to Shenzhen China

Dongmen Market during the day

Shenzhen China night market

Dongmen Market at Night…. Packed, Vibrant & Alive!!

Shenzhen China Dongmen Market

19 ;)

3. Travel to Hong Kong or Macau!

Located right next door, Hong Kong makes for an easy day trip or extended few days vacation.

Shenzhen to Hong Kong

4. OTC Loft.

A posh art & design district which hosts multiple exhibits. There are outdoor terrace restaurants which have pricier, yet tasty, drinks & food. Bookstores and small local designers also sell their work in boutique stores. Located right near Qiaocheng East metro station on Line 1.

Shenzhen China travel

Main OTC Loft Area

travel Shenzhen China

OTC Loft!

5. Shenzhen China Massages.

There are lots of massage places that will give you a thorough massage for a cheap price. I received an hour long $7 USD foot massage and holy cow was it great! I even drifted off to sleep for a minute (at least I think it was only a few minutes!) *Heads up: Massages in China are a bit different from other South East Asian massages because Chinese use more pressure to work out the kinks in your muscles and joints.

Shenzhen China is a fun and easily accessible city to travel to in China. You won’t have to worry about breathing in air pollution either, as this coastal city has better air quality than Beijing, Jinan, and Shanghai. Below is a map to get you started! Be sure to check out our others posts on backpacking China!

Let me know how you enjoyed doing my Top 5 in Shezhen! :)

Shenzhen China.JPG


Shenzhen China subway map

Shenzhen China Subway Map, click to enlarge :)

With love,

Backpacking Chongqing China

backpacking chongqing chinaTraveling Chongqing China

Backpacking Chongqing China is the experience of a lifetime. Chongqing has a population of twenty nine million people. Think about that for a moment. That’s over 50% more than the population of the metropolitan New York City area. Yet, nine out of ten Americans (including us before Hesh encouraged us to visit) have not heard of the city!

Chongqing features the confluence of two of China’s greatest rivers, the Jialing River and Yangtze River. Thus Chongqing is known as the “city on the rivers.” As in most areas of China, we were greeted with warm smiles, open arms, and lots of positive energy from the Chinese people!

Where is Chongqing

Chongqing is in central China near the infamous Tibetan Plateau. Chongqing is approximately 1,100 miles away from both Beijing (in the northeast) and Shanghai (in the east). This is about same distance as NYC to Orlando, FL.

Where is Chongqing China

What’s Unique About Chongqing China?

    • The spicy food and the spicy women! Chongqing is known for hot, spicy food, especially “hot pot” dishes. Chongqing is also infamous for aggressive women.
    • The sheer number of people (29 million people in Chongqing metropolitan area)
    • The confluence of two major rivers. In Chongqing, two massive rivers meet (Jialing River and Yangtze River)
backpacking chongqing china

Beautiful Temple in Chongqing

backpacking chongqing china

Brian in front of Chongqing Library

Only in China:

All my posts about traveling China include an “Only in China” section where we try to share with you the most ridiculous, random, hilarious oddities of traveling this wonderfully wild country!

backpacking chongqing china

Ducks outside a restaurant in Chongqing

ma jong in chongqing china

Chinese Families eating dinner and playing Ma Jong

backpacking chongqing china

The ducks have been trained to eat and then return to their owners

chongqing man carrying refridgerator

Getting a workout in?

backpacking chongqing

The alleyway where the hostel is located, the Chinese are creative in transporting goods!

love never fails cross in china

Gods love shining on us in the middle of China

god loves the world chongqing

The Chinese often struggle with English translations but not this time :)

hot pot history in china

Last line: “How surprised it is!” A more typical Chinese translation ;)

chongqing china construction

Massive amounts of skyscrapers going up in Chongqing

chongqing china fashion dog in shoes

Chinese woman’s dog all dolled up ;)

china gamers addicted

Chinese “gamers” in a dark secluded internet gaming lounge #addicted

brian lucid practice monkey in chongqing

Brian with a monkey on the streets of Chongqing

chongqing boat tour

A view of Chongqing from our boat cruise on the Yangtze River


Large building in Chongqing where the two rivers converge

Where to Stay in Chongqing China

Back to backpacking Chongqing China ….. Chongqing has many high quality, inexpensive hostels. We stayed at Chongqing Urban Trails Youth Hostel and highly recommend it.

Urban Youth Hostel is difficult to find because it is tucked in inside a narrow alleyway that cars cannot drive on. Once you get there, you’ll find a simple (in a good way), inexpensive, clean hostel in the heart of Chongqing.

My favorite part about this hostel was the friendliness of the staff, particularly an employee named Tiger Tang. All of the hostel staff were helpful (giving us the local lowdown on where to go, what to see, etc) and outgoing. They were so curious to talk to Americans because 1) They’re from Chongqing (see below on nightclub experience) and 2) They’re always trying to improve their English 3) The intrigue factor because so few Americans travel to Chongqing.

backpacking chongqing

The alleyway where Urban Youth Hostel is located

Weather in Chongqing China

The weather in Chongqing China is very moderate except for the summer when it gets very hot and humid. The winters are mild. The ideal times for backpacking Chongqing China are from March through May or September through November.

Getting Around Chongqing

You have options. Since transportation is government subsidized in China, taxis are very cheap. You can also get around Chongqing by bus or subway. Chongqing subways are immaculately clean, efficient, and FAST.

Top 4 things to do Backpacking Chongqing China

1.Eat spicy Chongqing hot pot!

If you’re backpacking Chongqing China, you simply cannot leave the city without eating spicy hot pot! Hot pot is an experience anywhere in China but Chongqing’s hot pot is the most unique hot pot in the entire country. Due to the Sichuan peppers that are used, Chongqing hot pot spices create a unique sensation taste that is indescribable. If you do nothing else in Chongqing, eat hot pot! Note: Vegetarians can access hot pot too. Veggies are cooked in the hot pot, not just meat/fish.

hot pot in china

Traditional Chinese hot pot meal, The searing hot spicy broth cooks the raw meat/veggies/fish


hot pot in chongqing china

Cooking our own Hot Pot in Chingqing

chongqing hot pot

Brian cooking Hot Pot in a Chongqing restaurant

friendly chinese peoplein chongqing

Blurry photo of Paz enjoying hot pot with another Chinese patron

2. Go out to a Chongqing night club

We were planning on going back to the hostel after dinner but happened to stumble upon a night club. We were wearing athletic shorts and tee shirts but still decided to stop in. We figured it would be uneventful and that we’d stay for five minutes or so.

In most cultures, it is the men who are the aggressors. In Chongqing, it is the opposite… and boy are they aggressive. Go out to a bar or night club and they will probably approach you and want to take photos, hang out all night…. all despite the fact that most don’t speak a lick of English.

The great part about Chongqing is even if you don’t know anyone, you will within two minutes of entering a social scene. Whether it’s a bar, restaurant, or store, most people are outgoing and curious. This made for a great night and an opportunity to meet people and spread positive energy.

chongqing spicy women

The Chongqing “Spicy Women


chongqing china club

DJ in Chongqing nightclub

chongqing china club

Not a lick of English but smiles are universal :)


chongqing club

The crowd erupted when the famous singer made an impromptu performance

3. Check out Jiefangbei Square

Chongqing’s premier shopping district. You can always get a good sense of a city by its markets and stores.

chongqing china palace

The View of Jeifang Bei from our boat cruise

4. Visit the Chongqing Golden Chinese Buddha

Huayan Scenic Resort golden Buddha

Golden Buddha in Chongqing China

Food in Chongqing China, What to Eat:

          • Fresh seafood from the fisherman and hot pot. Located at the confluence of two major rivers, Chongqing has amazingly fresh seafood.
          • Check out a new niche food that has sprung up in the past few years, Indian rotis!

chongqing indian roti

indian roti in chongqing

Chongqing Indian Roti Artist at Work!

food in chongqing

This guy was awesome!

chongqing china indian roti

Indian Roti maker bringing the Positive Energy All Day!

indian roti in china

Paz Enjoying the Finished Product, Indian Roti with Banana :)

          • Goji Berries. Heralded as a superfood in the West, the Chinese rarely eat Goji Berries. Instead, they are used for medicinal purposes in Traditional Chinese Medicine herbal. Chongqing is relatively close to the Himalayas, goji berries are dirt cheap here (about 20x cheaper than at a Whole Foods Market in the US where they sell for $21.99 USD per pound)
goji berries in chongqing china

A Woman Grabbing me a Handful of Goji Berries in a Chongqing Market

Average Daily Cost of Backpacking Chongqing China: $31 Per Day

Hostel: $15 USD Food: $14 USD Transportation: $2 USD

Backpacking Chongqing China

Overall, is a crazy, interesting, unique city and probably the biggest city you’ve never heard of. We met friendly, open people and ate amazing food without paying a lot. Here are some of our other posts on traveling:

Traveling to China for the first time? Post a question in the comments section below, we’ll respond with advice! If you liked this post, please share it with friends and leave a comment!