As someone who’s a self-professed night owl making sure I get enough sleep to function beyond that of a zombie is super important. So I was pretty excited to read 222 Ways to Trick Yourself to Sleep by Kim Jones, a brand new book filled with – you guessed it – 222 ways to fall asleep (and stay asleep). I figured surely one of these will get me to sleep earlier than 2am.
The book is super easy to read and the tips are broken down into a variety of different sections (more on this later). What’s more, unlike many other so-called ‘self help’ books you can tell that a great deal of research has gone into it, it’s incredibly informative and each tip is backed up with the relevant science (there’s 19 pages of references!). Better yet, you don’t feel like you’re reading some scientific thesis, the writing is soothing, friendly and actually quite funny at times, author Kim Jones is like your encouraging friend not a patronizing know-it-all.
The book looks great too; classy and elegant (looks great on a bookshelf) and there’s some cute illustrations throughout.
All in all, I was impressed with the book and it more than exceeded expectations. But being an enjoyable read and nice to look at can only get a book like this so far, so I decided to put some of the tips to the test…
As I mentioned, the tips in this book are split into different categories, they are;
- Before bed wind-down tips
- Mind tricks
- Bedroom tricks
- Food and drink tips
- Body tricks
- Breathing tricks
- Daytime tricks
- Tips for taking the stress out of sleep
So I decided to try one tips from each section and see if I had an improved night’s sleep. Not quite as scientific as Kim Jones’ research, I simply noted when I went to bed/sleep, whether I woke at night, and how refreshed I felt waking up.
Before bed wind-down tip : Dim the Lights Hygge Style
According to the book;
“Too much exposure to electric light stimulates feelings of alertness and stops the natural rise in melatonin production that darkness brings.”
The suggestion is to dim the lights using candles or low-lamps, turning off overhead or excessively bright lights. My bedroom has a giant overhead lamp which actually shines down over my bed (it’s like this tip was written for me) so this was an easy tip to follow. Out came the candles and the batteries in my fairy lights were replaced and I found myself in a calm, soothing environment.
The results were instantaneous! That night I was feeling sleepy by around 11pm (early for me) my sister even asked me if I was okay when I told her I was off to bed! I fell asleep almost as soon as hitting the pillow and the next morning I woke before the dreaded alarm feeling refreshed. This is one tip I’m going to keep following from now on.
Tip: Dim the Lights Hygge Style
Does it work?: Absolutely!
Mind Tricks – Get out of Bed
If you’re tossing and turning, struggling to get to sleep, the book recommends leaving your bed. The idea is to associate your bed with relaxation and comfort and not a place of restlessness. I luckily, don’t usually have this problem, but it does sometimes take me more than 15 minutes to fall asleep. One night, after being particularly restless, I decided to give this tip a go. Out of bed I popped and I took a stroll to the kitchen and then read in my chair for about ten minutes. Before long I was feeling sleepy again and returned to bed. It did feel much better getting into bed the second time and settling down, and this time, there was no tossing and turning and I fell asleep pretty much straight away.
Tip: Get out of bed
Does it work?: So it seems – I had no trouble getting to sleep a second time
Bedroom Tricks: Declutter
I’m sure my mother would like this tip! Kim points out that a messy or cluttered room can only remind us of chores we still have to do and can leave us feeling suffocated. Tidying up and decluttering can combat this and create more relaxed bedroom environment. Now, my room certainly isn’t a bombsite but I’m guilty of leaving the occasional unwashed coffee cup on my bedside table and a pile of letters and notes on my desk. So I decided to take note and clear my room and whilst it may not have been the most enjoyable of tasks I certainly felt cleansed afterwards. Did it help with my sleep? Well, after tidying my mood was lifted and I spent the rest of my evening feeling much more content in my bedroom, by the time I went to bed my mind was far from thinking about chores and tasks.
Does it work?: Even if you don’t notice a direct improvement in your sleep, clearing your room will create a much nicer atmosphere and it certainly put me in a better mood before bed.
Food and Drink Tips – Impose a caffeine curfew
I’m a big tea drinker and my pre-bed cup of tea is something of a ritual for me, but tea is filled with caffeine (some varieties have more caffeine than a cup of coffee!) and really should be avoided before bed. The book suggests cutting out caffeine from around 2pm (the effects of caffeine can take up to eight hours to wear off) but I couldn’t do this – sorry, working in an office a 4pm cuppa is basically in my contract – but I decided to forgo my usual 10pm brew as a compromise. Surprisingly I didn’t miss it, and when I found myself on autopilot going to turn on the kettle, saying no and forgetting about it wasn’t that hard.
Tip: Impose a caffeine curfew
Does it work?: The short-term effects are hard to determine but in the long-run, cutting down on caffeine can only be a good thing
Body Tricks: Stick out your tongue
Prepare to look ridiculous doing this tip. According to the book, many of us hold stress in our jaw, unwittingly clenching our teeth and holding ourselves tensely. When I came across this tip I was excited to try it out as I often find myself clenching my jaw uncomfortably late at night as I try to fall asleep.The idea is to carry out the yoga move ‘lion’s breath’ which involves breathing through your nose as you stick out your tongue towards your chin on the exhale and repeating the exercise five times. For me, the results were amazing, I instantly loosened up and felt less tense and waaay more relaxed…the next thing I knew, it was morning.
Tip: Stick out your tongue
Does it work?: Yes! It’s a great way to relieve tension and relax.
Breathing Tricks: Breathe through your left nostril
Okay, so out of all the tips I tried, this one made me feel the most foolish (yes, even more than sticking out your tongue). The idea behind this tip is;
“…breathing through the left nostril helped lower the heart rate and blood pressure…”
I gave this tip a go, following the instructions of closing off my right nostril and taking deep, long breaths. Yes, it was relaxing, but I didn’t have the patience to keep this up long enough to send me to sleep – sorry!
Tip: Breath through your left nostril
Does it work?: Not for me, but if you have more patience it most likely will work as it 100% relaxes you
Daytime Tricks: Take up a slow hobby
For this tip I dug out my pens and pencils and did some colouring in the evenings. There are plenty of other ‘slow’ hobbies to take up, such as knitting or photography. I have a colouring app on my phone (‘coz I’m cool see) but for this tip I ditched the phone and did the real deal, colouring in some pages from my Harry Potter colouring book (I told you I was cool). Not only did I have fun but it was totally unwinding and calming. When I did go to bed that night I had no problems settling down and felt refreshed and well-rested the next morning.
Tip: Take up a slow hobby
Does it work?: Yes – and it’s fun too!
Tips for taking the stress out of sleep: Get some vitamin sea
Living in London means I don’t get much time beside the seaside, but a few weeks ago I took a long weekend home to Wales and was able to give this tip a try. Kim explains that
“…people who took a coastal walk slept on average 47 minutes longer that night than they did before…”
Living a five minute walk from the beach made this an easy tip to carry out. An evening stroll along the sea front works wonders! That night I was so sleepy I couldn’t wait to hit the hay and instead of my usual faffing around before getting into bed, I was asleep the moment my head hit the pillow.
Tip: Get some vitamin sea
Does it work?: It works wonders! And if you don’t live near the sea, downloading an app to play the sounds of the oceans is a great alternative!
So there we go! I tried and tested seven of the 222 tips in this great book and I think it’s safe to say that there’s a tip for everyone. I can’t recommend 222 Ways to Trick Yourself to Sleep enough, both to those struggling to sleep and those who just want an interesting and entertaining book to dip in to, it’s absolutely wonderful!