Countless bedtime books have attempted to offer a solution to one of the most difficult problems in parenting: putting kids to sleep. Now, a storybook rabbit claims he can make anyone, even adults, fall asleep in no time.
Behavioral scientist and Swedish author Carl-Johan Forssén Ehrlin wrote a story called "The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep" about Roger (Rooo-geeer, read like two consecutive yawns, suggests the author), a rabbit who can't seem to get some shuteye.
Roger encounters characters like the Heavy-Eyed Owl but, as Ehrlin promises, once a kid reads or listens to the book, he won't be able to make it that far beyond the story.
Publisher Penguin Random House acquired the rights for the book, and it went on sale on Oct. 2 with 300,000 copies sold during the initial printing. Ehrlin had originally self-published his first children's book in 2011, which became a cult classic. "The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep" is now being culturally adapted and translated into more than 40 languages.
Ehrin says his storybook is effective because of various reasons. He wrote it in a way that would "keep the child focused on relaxing and falling asleep instead of talking." He had consulted psychologists and therapists in developing the book then tested it on preschoolers.
The book's first page shows comprehensive instructions to the reader, including advice on not to read it aloud near a person who is driving. Italicized words should be read with a slow, calm voice, while bold words should be emphasized.
Parents should make their child lie down and not look at the pictures. They could insert yawns within certain sentences and mention the name of the child being read to. Sentences with the phrase "fall asleep now" appear often in the book.
The story, of course, is intentionally long, with further instructions on finishing the book all the way through even after sleep is reached to make sure the child is beyond waking.
Several parents have noted that the story's changes in tone and the repetition of certain words have calmed their children. However, other parents have found it difficult to get their children to follow through these techniques.
"Try your best and read it a few times so the kids feel comfortable with the book, and the parents, too," Ehrlin suggested.
Britton Pierce, a pre-kindergarten teacher from Atlanta, compares reading the book to yoga and relaxation exercises. She has read the book to about six children and all incidents have so far been successful.
Dr. Shalini Paruthi, director of the Pediatric Sleep and Research Center at St. Louis University, says that if a child has a medical condition that makes falling asleep difficult, the book might not be able to cure such difficulty. She explains that over 5 percent of children suffer from obstructive sleep apnea and about 2 percent have the restless legs syndrome.
However, she also says it's the "powerful psychological techniques" of the book that set it apart from others.
Meanwhile, Ehrlin plans to write two more bedtime stories because some parents say that they love the book but are getting bored with it. After that, he will move on to writing about potty training, which he claims is another major parenting battle.
The book was illustrated by Irina Maununen and is available in hardcover, paperback and audiobook format.
Main Photo: Oğuzhan Abdik | Flickr