Surprising Ways to Get a Better Night's Sleep

There is no natural remedy more powerful than a good slumber. And yet so few of us get enough of it. Here's how to power up your sleep routine.

It's called beauty sleep for a reason. Not only does more of it lead to less stress—which means fewer pimples, slower aging, and more hair on your head—the act itself allows our faces a break from wrinkle-forming scowls and smiles.

While our understanding of sleep is limited, we know a few things for certain: It helps us fight free radical damage, which is good news for skin; a slew of studies have also linked sleep deprivation to obesity, possibly due to an increase in hunger hormones, or maybe a decrease in metabolism. (Either way, the less we sleep, the more calories we consume.)

Despite all this, most of us are not getting enough sleep. Many of us log just six hours a night, and some 35 percent of the population reports having trouble sleeping. So, how many hours are you getting a night? If you want more, here's how:

Exercise. Cardio exercise seems to be a natural cure for insomnia. A recent study indicated that in women over 55, 20 minutes of cardio four times a week could change “poor sleepers” into “good sleepers.” Other perks include more energy during the day, better circulation, a boosted immune system, lower stress, and a firmer body.

Do yoga. Yes, yoga is exercise too, but the focus on breath and relaxation may offer even more stress-reducing benefits to the sleep deprived. We’ve talked about this before, but studies have shown that just 20 minutes of yoga a day can help you fall asleep faster and keep you asleep longer. Meditation—the conscious act of clearing the mind and focusing on the breath—is a proven asset to falling asleep as well.

Take naps. If you can’t log enough Zs at night you may want to try indulging in an afternoon snooze. According to scientists at NIMH and Harvard, napping can reverse information overload and prevent burnout. They also up productivity, which makes us wonder why they aren't a mandatory part of the workday, kindergarten styles.

Don’t have that nightcap. While alcohol may help you nod off at first, studies show it actually disrupts your sleep pattern. Booze-induced sleep does not have the same quality to it because the ratio of REM to non-REM time is disturbed. If it's really just one glass, you're probably in the clear. If it was three at dinner? You're definitely not getting your best sleep on.

Ease off the caffeine. Caffeine affects everyone differently—and while it comes with significant perks, it can be a curse for even the mildest insomniacs. Some studies suggest that morning coffee alone can mess with your ability to sleep at night. If you’re not ready to fully abandon it though, look at ways to cut back. Don’t drink it in the afternoon, know that certain coffee chains, like Starbucks, come with higher caffeine kicks, so maybe opt for tea instead.

Try natural remedies. Sleeping pills can leave you with a hangover worse than tequila. Trusted alterna-doctor Andrew Weil recommends valerian and melatonin as a gentler option. A word about "natural" though: Just because it doesn't come with a prescription, does not mean that you want to create a dependence. We always suggest looking for root causes.

Reset your internal clock. According to Ayurveda, the day is divided into energetic cycles, making different activities ideal at different times. Roll your eyes all you want but we think they're onto something—after all, it is one of the oldest medical traditions. See if this breakdown doesn't ring a little true: From 2:00 to 6:00 p.m., you probably feel restless and unfocused (a good time to take a walk or do some yoga); 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. is when you wind down, and could fall asleep easily if you dared; and 10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. is when your mind starts up again and you're more likely to toss and turn (though not a bad slot to say, cram for a midterm). If you really need help sleeping, try going to bed just before 10:00 p.m. and waking before 6:00 a.m.

Power down. Again, we are repeating ourselves, but not enough of us turn off the gadgets. That means no televisions or laptops at least an hour before bed, and no cuddling with your smart phone either. Ideally you shut it all the way down—no emails buzzing or texts chirping—which should help you.

Bore yourself to bed. If you can’t fall asleep, don’t just lie there—but don’t grab the remote either. The first will give you clock-watching anxiety while the latter may keep you up with late-night programming. Read some Tolstoy, or try to.

Picture nature and other peaceful scenes. Don't count sheep though—apparently it doesn't work. However, imagining some kind of serene environment like nature (sounds a little bit like meditation to us), has shown good results.

Got any other good tips for turning in?

This is a series inspired by No More Dirty Looks: The Truth About Your Beauty Products and the Ultimate Guide to Safe and Clean Cosmetics, a book by GOOD's features editor Siobhan O'Connor and her co-author Alexandra Spunt.

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Illustrations by Brianna Harden

via Collection of the New-York Historical Society / Wikimedia Commons

Fredrick Douglass was born into slavery in 1818. At the age of 10 he was given to the Auld family.

As a child, he worked as a house slave and was able to learn to read and write, and he attempted to teach his fellow slaves the same skills.

At the age of 15, he was given to Thomas Auld, a cruel man who beat and starved his slaves and thwarted any opportunity for them to practice their faith or to learn to read or write.

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via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

On April 20, 1889 at the Braunau am Inn, in Upper Austria Salzburger located at Vorstadt 15, Alois and Klara Hitler brought a son into the world. They named him Adolph.

Little did they know he would grow up to be one of the greatest forces of evil the world has ever known.

The Hitlers moved out of the Braunau am Inn when Adolph was three, but the three-story butter-colored building still stands. It has been the subject of controversy for seven decades.

via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

The building was a meeting place for Nazi loyalists in the 1930s and '40s. After World War II, the building has become an informal pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis and veterans to glorify the murderous dictator.

The building was a thorn in the side to local government and residents to say the least.

RELATED: He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

For years it was owned by Gerlinde Pommer, a descendant of the original owners. The Austrian government made numerous attempts to purchase it from her, but to no avail. The building has served many purposes, a school, a library, and a makeshift museum.

In 1989, a stone from the building was inscribed with:

"For Peace, Freedom

and Democracy.

Never Again Fascism.

Millions of Dead Remind [us]."

via Jo Oh / Wikimedia Commons

For three decades it was home to an organization that offered support and integration assistance for disabled people. But in 2011, the organization vacated the property because Pommer refused to bring it up to code.

RELATED: 'High Castle' producers destroyed every swastika used on the show and the video is oh-so satisfying

In 2017, the fight between the government and Pommer ended with it seizing the property. Authorities said it would get a "thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building."

Now, the government intends to turn it into a police station which will surely deter any neo-Nazis from hanging around the building.

Austria has strict anti-Nazi laws that aim to prohibit any potential Nazi revival. The laws state that anyone who denies, belittles, condones or tries to justify the Nazi genocide or other Nazi crimes against humanity shall be punished with imprisonment for one year up to ten years.

In Austria the anti-Nazi laws are so strict one can go to prison for making the Nazi hand salute or saying "Heil Hitler."

"The future use of the house by the police should send an unmistakable signal that the role of this building as a memorial to the Nazis has been permanently revoked," Austria's IInterior Minister, Wolfgang Peschorn said in a statement.

The house is set to be redesigned following an international architectural competition.

via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

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via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

RELATED: The 1975's singer bravely kissed a man at a Dubai concert to protest anti-LGBT oppression

In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

RELATED: Alan Turing will appear on the 50-pound note nearly 70 years after being persecuted for his sexuality

Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?


Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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