Book review “The rabbit who wants to fall asleep - a new way of getting children to sleep”

Picture from the Facebook page of The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep

Picture from the Facebook page of The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep

          I recently read an article about this book and it intrigued me to the point that I felt I needed to actually read it. The article mentioned that this book was a #1 best seller on Amazon.  As a baby sleep consultant/early childhood educator/child development expert/parents educator, it was great to see that parents took baby’s sleep seriously but at the same time, it was a bit scary to think that there are so many children that are suffering from sleep deprivation. Having said this, I was very excited to read this book and checked my mail box every day (multiple times a day, in fact) anticipating its arrival.

          When I had the book in my hand, I was a bit disappointed because I thought I had ordered a hard covered copy but I actually received a paperback book instead (Don’t ever ask your husband to do something without double checking!). I personally like using hard cover books with children because they are more durable. The first page describes how to use this book. Bold texts indicate that you need to emphasize these specific words, Italic texts indicate that you need to use your calm and slow voice, and also, some parts require you to  act out and say your child’s name in sentences. It also explains that the constructed sentences and the choice of words can be unusual because they were chosen for a psychological purpose by the author, Carl-Johan who has an extensive psychology background.

          This book is about a little rabbit named Roger who cannot sleep. His mother asked him put all his thoughts into a box and they left the house to see Uncle Yawn. On the way to his home, they met a Sleepy Snail who asked him slow down their tempo - walk slow, think slow, breathe slow, etc. Also, he met a Heavy Eyed Owl who asked him to relax his body - lay down, relax your feet, legs, your upper body, arms, head, eyelids, and allow your whole body to be heavy in order to fall asleep. Finally, they arrived at Uncle Yawn’s house and Uncle Yawn read a powerful spell that would make him fall asleep. On the way back, Roger felt more and more tired and when he finally arrived at home, he fall asleep in his bed.

          As I assumed before, the book is for older children (not for infants) but you can always shorten the story for your younger child based on his/her comprehension level, attention span, etc. You can even change some of the difficult words into some easier words that he/she already knows but it is still a good idea to keep a few new important words. We all know bedtime story time is beneficial in terms of cognitive development, language development, emotional well-being, etc. As one of the processes of a bed time ritual, story time can provide children with a calm and quiet moment which is crucial in making children ready to sleep. This is especially the case for children whose lives are filled with different activities as well as different gadgets such as smart phones, ipads, computers, etc. Our modern society can be overly stimulated during the daytime so it is important for them to have this period of calmness. One of the best features of the book is that it actively asks children to be more relaxed.  Through the use of its characters, this book uses many relaxation techniques and describes exactly what to do, step by step. It also tries to plant seeds of thought that your child is tired by proclaiming “you are tired now” or by using a yawning action. Many children who are overly stimulated don’t realize they are tired and need to rest. It is important to remind them that they are tired by encouraging them to concentrate on what they feel such as heavy eyelids, drowsy feelings, etc. From my experience, once a child starts feeling tired and enjoys the feeling of relaxing his/her body, most non medical sleep issues can be solved easily with the use of a developmentally appropriated schedule and parents’ consistency when responding to their sleep issues (e.g. sleep training).

          I would recommend this book for parents who try are trying to teach their children how to relax before going to bed. However, I can also recommend that you can even make a similar book for your child if you include these two main lessons from this book:

1. Help make your child feel relaxed by describing what to do exactly by using a step by step method (e.g. relax your legs, relax your arms and close your eyes). These small steps are easy to follow for even younger children. You can even gently touch or softly and quickly massage body parts while giving directions since skin to skin touch should allow them to relax even more.  

2. Let them know that they are tired. As I mentioned earlier, it is important for them to focus on feeling their bodies. Many overly stimulated children forget or cannot realize they are tired. Along with the relaxation, you can remind them that they are tired and drowsy so it’s time to go to sleep.

          Some other key points for having a successful story time before bed include thinking about your child’s level, contents of the book, your tone of voice and effort. Pick the appropriate lengths and levels of words based on your child’s level (or you can edit the story). Avoid reading scary, violent, or overly exciting stories before bed. Watch your tone of voice as well. Use a quiet voice that includes whispering. Provide undivided attention to your child during this time and enjoy the close proximity to your child. Another important consideration is setting up a proper sleep environment. In other words,  dim the lights, proper sleep temperature (18 ˚C -21˚C), noise control (e.g. turn on the white noise machine), safe and proper bedding, stop using TV or other electric devices, etc. All of these should be performed before a sleep ritual actually starts. Bedtime stories are some of the most memorable childhood shared experiences for both you and your child.

If you need more help for getting your child to sleep, please contact me via

For all you parents that are sleep deprived, check out the book below and have a good laugh. This children’s book for adults was the #1 best seller on Amazon a few years ago. It captures the frustration of parents who try to get their little one’s to sleep in a humorous way.