Ask the Expert: What’s the magic behind The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep?

bedtimeThe self-published book The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep has skyrocketed to top of Amazon’s best-seller list. The book’s success is likely fueled by parents fighting a nightly battle to get their children to sleep. Thriving asked Dr. Umakanth Khatwa, director of the Boston Children’s Hospital’s Sleep Center, about the magic of the book and to share additional tips for a smooth bedtime.

The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep is filled with hypnotic language and directs parents to stress words like ‘relax,’ read certain sentences slowly and calmly and yawn at designated intervals.

“It’s a form of gentle hypnosis,” says Khatwa. “Anxiety can prevent children from falling asleep. Reading in a calm, hypnotic voice can soothe this anxiety and help them relax … and then sleep.”

Toddlers and preschoolers relate to the simple story and identify with the sleepy characters.

The techniques emphasized in the book can be used when reading other children’s stories, and many parents are likely already employing a soothing voice when they read bedtime stories to their children, says Khatwa.

But the specific approach used in The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep could help children who struggle to fall asleep.bedtime story

Khatwa recommends the book to parents who have children without significant other medical conditions who have trouble getting to sleep. However, he says the book should be paired with other strategies to help toddlers, preschoolers and young children fall asleep.

Sleeps tips for parents of toddlers, preschoolers and young children

What is Khatwa’s advice to help parents get their children to fall asleep?

  • Be familiar with age-appropriate sleep requirements and patterns for children, so there are no discrepancies between parental expectations and the child’s actual sleep requirements.
  • Have a consistent schedule (bedtime, naptime and feeding) and nightly bedtime routines. Dim the lights, and plan calm activities for relaxation at least 20 to 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Avoid sugar-sweetened food and beverages before bedtime.
  • Stop screen time with any electronic devices at least one to two hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid reading bedtime stories from electronic devices, as the light emitted from these devices may affect children’s sleep.

Read additional sleep tips from the Boston Children’s Sleep Center.