By Emily Harrington
Too good to be true? I first heard about this trending book from a girlfriend who works with children. The book makes big claims that it can help children fall asleep.
Every day at naptime my friend plays the audiobook to the room filled with sleepy tots. She said the kids love to listen to the audiobook. She explained that the story calms them down and preps them for sleep or at the very least relaxes them during quiet time.
The bestselling children’s book, “The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep: A New Way of Getting Children to Fall Asleep” was published in the U.S. in 2014 by Swedish psychologist Carl-Johan Forssén Ehrlin.
Thankfully, my son has always been a great sleeper. Which I always say is the trade off for his reputation as the Energizer Bunny. But on our last car trip he skipped his nap altogether which was an all-time first for him. I panicked. No siree — we are NOT giving up naps already. No way, no how. So, as I prepped for our next long car trip, I decided to put the audiobook on my iPod and try it out on our car ride — a true test of the book’s validity.
We played the book around his usual naptime. The narrator immediately headed this warning: “Don’t read this book next to anyone driving, as it can cause drowsiness or an unintentional cat nap.” Oops! We took our chances. The book also stated that it hopes your little one falls asleep but can make no guarantees.
A man’s melodic voice tells the story of a young rabbit named Roger. Roger has trouble falling asleep, because he wants to stay up and play instead of sleeping. The syrupy voice repeats “tired,” “sleepy” and “eyelids are heavy” while injecting yawns. The author continuously relates the rabbit to the kid trying to fall asleep by saying things like, “Roger and you.”
In the story Roger seeks help trying to fall asleep. Mommy Rabbit tells Roger to take all the thoughts lingering in his head and put them in a box where all the answers will be found tomorrow. She also takes him on a journey to see Uncle Yawn (the wizard).
(At about this time I started yawning, my son’s eyelids fluttered and my husband was audibly sighing.)
On the journey, Roger meets other characters who offer advice for falling asleep.
Sleepy Snail says to calm down, slow down and breathe slowly to help sleep.
Heavy-Eyed Owl tells Roger it’s all about being able to relax. The owl takes Roger and the listener through different parts of the body and describes how to relax each one. Each body part is getting heavy and falling down, down, down. Like Progressive Muscle Relaxation, simplified.
The rabbit gets more and more tired on the journey to Uncle Yawn’s home. When they arrive Uncle Yawn sprinkles sleeping powder which he says works on rabbits and little kids.
They return toward home from Uncle Yawn’s house and are sooooooo tired. They meet Heavy-Eyed Owl and Sleepy Snail again on their way home. They both say how sleepy he looks and how tired he is.
He is so exhausted when he arrives back home, he easily falls asleep. And so should you.
It is a simple, cute story. The bottom line: We started the story at 1:35 p.m., and he was asleep by 1:47. So, I’m giving it my full endorsement! A fluke? On the second leg of our journey I tried it again. We started the story at 1:48 p.m., and he was asleep by 2:01. I was asleep minutes after! Thankfully, my husband stayed awake.
In all seriousness, I think it’s more about how you read it and the intermittent yawning than the actual story. The soft spoken reader was what I believe made it so effective.
The yawning, emphasized keywords and calculated language (that allows the child to put themselves in Roger’s shoes) are all devices employed because of the psychological research by the author.
The actual book encourages the reader to yawn. This further encourages the struggling sleepyhead to identify with Roger. The story in general has been widely described as gentle hypnosis or guided meditation for even the most obstinate sleepers.
I ordered the audiobook for $11.95 from iTunes. The first reading is from a man, or you can choose the second reading from a woman. Each reading is about 30 minutes. Check with your library of choice for the format you prefer, but you may want to invest after giving it a test of your own!
Have you tried this story with your kiddos? How do you rate the tale’s effectiveness? Share your experience in the comments below!
Emily Harrington is a Chambana townie that left her 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job to be a 24/7 mom to a dreamy son. Still interested in writing, Emily uses some of naptime to practice her passion and keep her mind right. Emily is a happy wife with a happy life, because she fell for a fellow townie. Oh, and let’s not forget her other son—a degenerate canine named Heppenheimer.
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