Our Foundry sleep testers have finished their experiment. Here’s how they got on… (1 of 2)

A group of us recently took part in a sleep experiment to see if different techniques could help us improve our quality of sleep. Month One was our control. In Month Two, we tested everything from cutting out caffeine to lavender pillow sprays, and asked our human guinea pigs to fill in a sleep diary every day. They recorded ease of falling asleep, quantity and quality of sleep, and any disturbances that might be contributing to a lack of ZZZZs. Here’s what we found...


1. Kate’s breath­ing technique

The 478 breath­ing tech­nique is sup­posed to get you to sleep in just 60 sec­onds. It involves breath­ing in qui­et­ly through the nose for 4 sec­onds, hold­ing the breath for 7 sec­onds and exhal­ing force­ful­ly through the mouth for 8 sec­onds. Doing this every night before bed, Kate found it easy to nod off – and had an aver­age of 7 hours of sleep per night. But she does won­der if turn­ing off the light on the baby mon­i­tor con­tributed more than the sleep­ing aid technique.

2. Tracey’s massage

Who hasn’t almost nod­ded off dur­ing a mas­sage? Tracey used a shi­at­su mas­sage machine to give her­self a sleep-induc­ing treat­ment before bed. She found it easy to get to sleep, but her sleep qual­i­ty was just average.

3. Sophie’s bed­time book

Mil­lions of us enjoy a good book before bed, and Sophie agreed it was nice to set aside a time each day to be tech-free. She liked the rou­tine of read­ing every night, but wasn’t sure if it actu­al­ly helped her sleep, find­ing that she tend­ed to skip it on late nights or when she had peo­ple staying.

4. Stu’s cher­ry juice

Mont­moren­cy cher­ries are a nat­ur­al source of mela­tonin, a hor­mone that helps reg­u­late the sleep-wake cycle. But can they actu­al­ly help you sleep bet­ter? Stu duti­ful­ly sipped his tart cher­ry juice, dilut­ed with 20ml of water, every night before bed, and said he did notice a dif­fer­ence in sleep qual­i­ty: I did find that my sleep felt deep­er and, when I woke in the night, I would typ­i­cal­ly feel quite drowsy and would be able to get back off to sleep fair­ly quickly.”

5. Elaine’s milky drink

How does the Finance Depart­ment sleep at night? With Hor­licks®, obvi­ous­ly. Elaine treat­ed her­self to a hot, milky drink before bed and, despite being ill for part of the exper­i­ment, she said it did help her get to sleep: I found that I did sleep slight­ly bet­ter. I still woke up once or twice in the night, but I got back to sleep much eas­i­er and had a bet­ter night’s sleep”.

6. Mital’s pil­low spray

Research shows laven­der is good for anx­i­ety and insom­nia. One study even found that laven­der can increase your qual­i­ty of sleep by 20%. Mital was the lucky one cho­sen to try out a laven­der pil­low spray. Sad­ly, despite it being easy to use and smelling quite nice, he didn’t real­ly notice much improve­ment in sleep.

7. Kev’s wor­ry journal

It’s easy to find your­self toss­ing and turn­ing if you have a lot on your mind. Kev’s chal­lenge was to write down any wor­ries in a jour­nal before bed, so that he could go to sleep with a clear mind. He didn’t find actu­al­ly get­ting to sleep as easy as some of the oth­ers, but had the most sleep overall.

8. Mark’s caf­feine-free afternoons

Cof­fee-lover Mark was forced to give up caf­feine after 12 noon, for every day dur­ing the exper­i­ment. He switched to fruit teas and, while he wasn’t a mas­sive fan of the flavours, he found it easy to fall asleep, get­ting a good 8 hours every night.

But who faired best over­all – and will any­one be car­ry­ing on with their sleep aids? Tune into Part 2 for the verdict…