I tried out a weird Swedish hypnosis book on my child and here’s what happened


My daughter is 6 and likes ballet, craft, puppies and music. She also doesn't sleep.

That's a slight exaggeration; there are distinct periods between 9pm to 1am and 1.10am to 7am where she may catch a bit of shut-eye, preferring to crawl in to our bed for the second shift.

But getting her to sleep each night is a complete nightmare closely following the seven stages of grief: from disbelief (how are you not tired?), to bargaining, through to depression, and finally, acceptance (right, I'll just sit in your room and play Candy Crush for 3 hours until you finally drop off).

The number 1 best seller.
The number 1 best seller.  

This isn't a new thing – she also failed sleep school.

Along the way, we've tried a heap of routines, gadgets, e-books, night lights and CDs in the hope that ONE of them would finally work.

After I complained on the EB forums about how long it takes her to get down, someone recommended The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep: A New Way Of Getting Children To Sleep by Swedish behavioural psychologist and linguist Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin. It's been feted around the world and has thousands of rapturous reviews by parents who say it worked in moments.

Because I am both a masochist and an idiot, I thought that maybe this was the killer solution for Miss No-Sleep and promptly ordered it from the Book Depository.

Big mistake. HUGE.

Here's how it went down.


6pm. Dinner table

Announce arrival of new book. Eldest sulks that daughter is getting a present when it is his birthday. Tell him it is a weird book about a rabbit, he moves on.

Daughter demands to seek book, throws hangry tantrum when I tell her it is only for sleep time. Book is placed on high shelf.

Meet Sleepy Snail and Uncle Yawn. Uncle Yawn has “powerful, magical and invisible sleeping powder that makes rabbits and ...
Meet Sleepy Snail and Uncle Yawn. Uncle Yawn has “powerful, magical and invisible sleeping powder that makes rabbits and children fall asleep when it is sprinkled over them.” That's not creepy, not creepy at all. 

7.30pm. Post-bath and teeth brushing

I lovingly lay down next to her, pull a sheet over us and tell her that we are going to read a lovely book about a rabbit who wants to sleep.

"I am going to tell you a story that can make you feel very sleepy. Now some people can fall asleep straight away whilst others wait a little while until you drift off to dreamland, [yawn]," I read. 

"I'm wondering just when will be the best time for you to go to sleep now, or before the story ends ..."

And she announces: "Never."

I keep reading. This book works by repetition of words and subliminal suggestions, as well as a heap of fake yawning. The story is dull as dishwater – it's about a rabbit named Roger who goes on a long sleepy walk to meet Uncle Yawn, passing Sleepy Snail and Heavy-Eyed Owl along the way. (Ten points for subtlety, Mr Erhlin!)

The pictures are also sort of creepy.


Daughter announces that story is boring and hops out of bed, picking up a book with a stronger plotline.

I convince her to at least listen to the whole book before reading something else.

We try again, and it is worth noting that she is yawning quite a lot, although I suspect quite a few of them are pretend yawns and she is taunting me.

The suggestion to relax her arms and legs leads to frenetic limb thrashing.

"This is how I relax!" she announces.

7.50 pm

We're getting in to a bit of a rhythm when the Home Ice Cream truck drives past the window, dinging its bell and enraging parents up and down the street.

Oh for f**k's sake.

We trudge on as Uncle Yawn sprinkles magic sleep dust all over Roger and he and his mother limp sleepily home to bed.

"I can make anyone go to sleep," says Dr Yawn.

"No you can't," says my daughter.

"The eyelids are heavy as stones, heavy, heavy, so heavy," I intone, struggling to keep my own eyes open.

She tosses and turns and stares at the ceiling and talks about her Easter hat they are decorating at school.

We're on the last page. It's sleep time, baby. I slowly drag out the last page, say the magic word "Goodnight!" and glance optimistically to my left.

No dice.

She picks up her preferred book and reads that as I exit the room and go to fold laundry and swear.


A few minutes later I turn the light off and we return to our regular schedule of playing new-age dolphin music while I rapidly lose the will to live.


Time to drink half a litre of water, apparently.


Brother wanders in and out. More water.


I've lost all my lives on Candy Crush. The Ikea bed frame is digging in to my spine. 

Thankfully, she seems to be asleep. Yay!


I realise, to my horror, that my son is still awake. I delegate to my husband.


I pour a glass of wine. And vow to never trust Amazon reviews again.

So there we have it. Did you try The Rabbit Who Wants to Sleep? How did it work for you? Share in the comments below ...