It’s been all over my friends Facebook feeds this week. Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin’s “The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep,” a self-published, top of the charts paper back or audio book, available on Amazon. It’s guaranteed to put your child to sleep quickly and painlessly. It’s a book you can buy and read yourself, or you can buy the audio version, and have a dreamy, masculine voice read to your little one.
Here’s my confession. I sit in my daughter’s room every night until she falls asleep. Some nights it takes 5-10 minutes, and other nights it takes almost an hour. While I don’t mind it on some nights, other nights I’m really exhausted and need to just be downstairs, away from a two hour bedtime routine. Lately, it’s been especially difficult, since the baby is getting past the newborn stage and balancing the three kids’ needs in the evening can be extremely stressful. So I need to do something to lessen the time I spend in my daughter’s room. I want her to be a little more confident to be by herself, and a little more independent when falling asleep. We’ve tried nightlights, me moving closer to the door and other strategies, but she doesn’t want to fall asleep on her own.
So I downloaded this story, hoping that all my friends weren’t wrong.
We’ve tried it three times.
Night One: I put my kids to bed early. A little earlier than normal, but they were acting tired, and I was exhausted. My daughter listened to the entire 30 minute story, and I thought it was NEVER going to work. She was fascinated by the voice coming out of the phone and kept moving around. She yawned a few times toward the end, but didn’t fall asleep. Ha. I thought, this story has found its match. But then, five minutes after the story was over, she was asleep. Even though she’d taken a two-hour nap that day. And it was an hour before she normally fell asleep. I’ll call that success.
Next Day, Naptime: And then, at naptime, she requested it. She was a little squirmy at first, but nine minutes (!!) in and she was asleep.
Night Two: The real test was the second night at bedtime. Normally, she falls asleep around 8 or 8:15, but that’s too late, especially with a wake up time of around 6:30. So, we tried it again. She’d had a later nap that day too, so I was nervous. She asked for the rabbit story, and 25 minutes into it, was asleep.
I think it’s working. My daughter enjoys it, and it seems to settle her down. We will probably continue to use it. An added bonus is that it really relaxes me, and for someone like me, who is super Type A and can’t turn my mind off for one second, it’s nice to lay in the dark and listen to a relaxing voice.
But the story itself is a little weird. The writer uses specific hypnosis techniques such as frequent yawning, repeating words, using subliminal messaging, and using a soft tone to lull a person to a sleepy state. Some of the messages are sweet—you are loved, you will fall asleep easier next time, your body is getting heavy and is ready to sleep. But some critics have said that it’s downright creepy. The rabbit visits various friends, such as “Uncle Yawn” and the “Heavy-Eyed Owl” who both use various techniques to get Roger the Rabbit to fall asleep. One includes a magic sleeping powder. That one was a little reminiscent of a date rape drug. Too far? Maybe.
But it was a calming, serene voice, and honestly, I don’t think my two year old understands much of it except the constant reminders to “go. to. sleep. now.” and the little journey of poor tired Roger, who has to walk home completely exhausted after his visits with his friends. (Again, a little sad, actually!) I feel a little weird playing it for her, especially with all the subliminal commands telling her that she must fall asleep, but on the other hand, she does get very relaxed and enjoys the sing-song, calming voice.
I’m not quite sure how I feel about it yet. Am I tricking her to make my life easier? Will she have nightmares? Or is this just a sweet and cozy way of falling asleep, just like playing music or a sound machine? The author says it’s the “equivalent of rocking your child to sleep.” Maybe.
Have you tried this story out yet? I’d love to hear your experiences.
UPDATE: After three days, we stopped using this story. My daughter did not ask for it, and when I asked, she said no. I have no idea why.