Chichester author and mind coach Dan Jones hopes his 30th book, Bedtime Stories for Grown-ups, will transform the lives of those struggling to get a good night’s sleep.
Bedtime Stories for Grown-ups is a collection of 20 bedtime stories from Dan’s Dan Jones Hypnosis YouTube channel to help adults fall asleep, while reducing stress, worry and anxiety.
“Growing up I had difficulty understanding the behaviours of others,” Dan says. “Being autistic I struggled with social communication. As a teenager I started learning hypnosis to help me un-derstand people. I quickly discovered that there is nothing magical or mystical about hypnosis. It is just about learning to understand how people communicate.
“I always struggled to fall asleep. My mind never stops. I rarely worry, but I have a continuous stream of ideas rattling away in my head. This makes it very difficult to switch off and sleep. My first stories were created for myself. I didn’t think about how my stories could help others until I worked in children’s homes.
“I developed my bedtime stories approach when I worked in children’s homes. The children would frequently be difficult to settle at night. I used to read stories to the children in my own particular way and they would drift off asleep. Other staff wanted to know what I was doing differently to them and how I was having such success at getting the children to sleep.
“I taught other staff what I was doing and later taught parents how to tell bedtime stories in a way that would help their children sleep before writing two books of children’s stories to help children relax and sleep: Relaxing Tales for Children and Sleepy Bedtime Tales.
“These two books introduced a wider audience to my approach. In 2007 I started creating bed-time stories for grown-ups on YouTube. I didn’t realise the stories were going to be so popular. I thought I was probably the only one who listened to bedtime stories. Bedtime stories are more associated with children than adults.
“My stories were often about 20-60 minutes long and de-signed to help listeners drift comfortably asleep. As the stories became popular my audience asked if I would write the stories down so that they could read them.
“Bedtime Stories for Grown-ups is a collection of twenty of my 20-35-minute stories. There is an art to getting the stories to work. The stories can’t have too many twists and turns or excitement because these can all stimulate the brain too much and increase the chances of the reader staying awake, but I want to stimulate curiosity and engagement with the story so that the mind has something to do other than its usual thinking.
“I don’t want the reader to be too invested in feeling they have to remember the whole story, but I want the reader to be curious about what will happen next to keep them engaged. I don’t want to tell the reader what to think as this can lead to the reader being passive in the experience, I want the story to guide the reader’s attention to different elements of the story or experience.
“So rather than telling a reader what a beach looks like, I pose a question to the reader to be curious about whether the beach is sandy or not, whether the sea is rough or calm, whether the sky is clear or cloudy etc.
“The stories are like guided meditations. They work by giving the reader something to focus their internal dialogue on while stimulating calmness. The reader is asked to read using a calm, slow, relaxing inner voice. Each story uses metaphors to mirror the pattern for falling asleep and patterns for reducing worry, anxiety and stress. Each story contains a journey and transitions, mirroring the journey and transitions from wakefulness to sleep.”