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Your child won't sleep? The strangest known strategies are revealed by our poll

Your child won't sleep? The strangest known strategies are revealed by our poll

Parents try the strangest things to get their kids to sleep.

Explaining to a child who is snuggled up in bed the road- and train-building plans of China’s leader Xi Jinping has been voted the strangest known method for helping children get to sleep.

It topped a list of eccentric but real techniques for helping a child sleep, in a survey of 2,205 Americans and Britons conducted by pollsters YouGov, onbehalf of Calm and Moshi Twilight Sleep Stories (a new app of soothing bedtime tales for kids).

We could hardly believe some of the methods we found when we started to research the subject and compile a list. It shows the lengths to which parents will go to get their kids to sleep.

The new Moshi Twilight Stories bring new hope to such parents by offering an effective new way of helping kids sleep, with mesmerising musical tales.

The first such story, called Close Your Eyes SleepyPaws, launches this month on both Calm.com, as one of our 70+ Sleep Stories, and simultaneously as one of 11 melodic tales and soundscapes at launch on the new standalone app, Moshi Twilight Sleep Stories.

Respondents to the new poll, meanwhile, picked from a list of 13 offbeat methods for getting children to sleep...

And the winning method was ...

1. Explaining the infrastructure dream of China’s leader, Xi Jingping

The winning method – “Explaining the infrastructure dream of China’s leader, Xi Jingping, to a child” – was picked by nearly half (46%) of all respondents as among the strangest/weirdest methods.

This may sound improbable (or ingenious?) but is a real bedtime technique, pioneered only this year by an American journalist on the state-owned newspaper, China Daily – and widely reported by reputable media at the time, complete with a video of the unusual bedtime ritual.

“Time for bed, sweetie”, the dad tells his young daughter, before launching an explanation of Xi’s $900bn infrastructure plan, while she plays with her stuffed camel.   

2. Playing a recording of a chapter from an 18th century Scottish economics book, read by a really boring teacher

“Modesty almost prevented us from including this in the poll”, says Michael Acton Smith, Calm Co-founder, since this option refers to a Calm Sleep Story, comprising the actor who played the boring Economics teacher in the 80s movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, reading an excerpt from the classic economics tome, ‘The Wealth of Nations’.

“But many people tell us that they do really use this Sleep Story to lull their child to sleep – and so it qualified on merit. We’re proud that it’s been voted the second weirdest method for getting children to sleep, since we know that it works.”

3. Playing a video of a crossword puzzle tournament

An opportunity created recently by one new streaming service as a natural sleep aid, for adults and children alike.

4. Playing an hour-long CD recording of people yawning

Another recent new sleep aid product in an increasingly creative market.   


5. Running a vacuum cleaner

Apparently some find this sound soothing!

6 and 7. Having the child watch Baa Baa Land, an eight-hour, slow-motion film about sheep grazing or Inventing an imaginary figure like “The 8 O’Clock Man”

It was a tie! A toss up between boring or scaring your child. We advise boring them with sheep!

8 and 9.  Going for a drive, having the child listen to music/ stories – and then all sleeping in the car or Laying the child on the parent's chest, and the parent slowly spinning in a circle

Another tie. Interesting that these both include motion. Important Note: The driving technique is particularly unwise in extreme weather conditions, when it could be highly dangerous.

10. Singing/humming the British national anthem

11. Turning the child’s bed the other way round

This method was once used by Charles Dickens, the famous writer and insomniac, who tried to beat his own sleep troubles by turning the head of bed to point due north. Indeed, this is also the advice given in books of Feng Shui, the Chinese philosophy of placement.

12. Putting a ticking clock under the child's pillow, to mimic the mother’s heartbeat” 

13. Putting an item of clothing that smells of the mother in the child's bed.”

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