A Children’s Book that Induces “Gentle Hypnosis” to Get Kids to Sleep

A bedtime story entitled The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep, written by Swedish psychologist Carl-Johan Forssén Ehrlin, is Amazon’s newest bestselling chart-topper. The book’s impressive sales record suggests an army of exhausted parents desperate for their children to fall asleep fast(er).

According to CBS News, Dr. Umakanth Khatwa, Director of Sleep Laboratories at Boston Children’s Hospital, describes the book as “gentle hypnosis.” In bedrooms all over the world, then, parents are turning into beginner hypnotists. Ehrlin “employs psychological and positive reinforcement techniques to promote relaxation and induce sleep,” including a carefully constructed language pattern and sentence structure.

The book encourages readers to yawn frequently (and we all know far too well how peskily contagious a yawn can be!) as well as to insert the name of the awake and excitable child being read to within certain designated places. While reporting that this final technique does allow children to effectively identify with the sleepy rabbit protagonist, Imogen Russell Williams also highlights the overlooked and “sinister” aspects of the children’s book in her article for The Guardian. The book’s disclaimer states: “Even if this book is harmless to use, the author and the publisher takes no responsibility for the outcome.” Use of the word “outcome” may suggest a scary statistical possibility of the book falling into the wrong hands at the wrong time, or it could just be an amusing and obvious reminder that the book isn’t foolproof. Your child might still require three long, excruciating hours before finally closing their eyes.

Williams points to another off-putting moment, when readers are introduced to a wizard character “who ALWAYS makes children and rabbits fall asleep using his magic sleeping powder.” I wouldn’t expect a children’s book to include a reference to sleep-inducing drugs, either, but to each their own.

The vast majority of parents, however, claim the book did indeed send their children straight into sweet and innocent dreamland. Rave reviews populate its Amazon page; one parent says the book worked perfectly on her “sleep-fighting champion” of a 5-year-old, while another wrote excitedly (and yes, in all caps): “MR. HYPER WAS ASLEEP BEFORE THE BOOK WAS OVER!!”

If Mr. Hyper was able to fall asleep, then perhaps a young Mrs. Hyper can be convinced, too.

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