The Gentle Sleep Book by Sarah Ockwell-Smith…a review

Having read Sarah Ockwell-Smith’s previous books, I have been eagerly anticipating the release of her latest work The Gentle Sleep Book. Imagine my excitement at being offered the opportunity to review it ahead of it’s official release! 

having received my review copy, delighting in it’s beautiful cover design and having time to digest it’s contents, I am now delighted to be able to share this post with you…


The Gentle Sleep Book 

‘A guide for Calm Babies, Toddlers and Pre-schoolers’ 

By Sarah Ockwell-Smith

(Published by piatkus)


‘The Gentle Sleep Book’ is a refreshing antidote to the usual offerings from so called ‘parenting experts’. Totally Non-prescriptive and written (BY A MUM!) in a way that offers comfort, practical suggestions and I think, most importantly of all, reliable, evidenced based information which serves to provide the reader with an all important insight into what is truly ‘normal’ in terms of our children’s sleep.  Dispelling the popular myths ‘(the problems with modern sleep-training’) all too often present in every conversation held by new (or indeed seasoned) parents…based on this chapter alone I have already recommended this book to numerous parents!

The book contains thirteen chapters , The first of which, *Understanding normal sleep physiology’examines a variety of essential aspects of sleep. A chapter filled with evidence based information focusing on areas all too often forgotten when thinking about our children’s so called ‘sleep issues’ including information on circadian rhythms, melatonin, sleep cycles at each age and stage, early waking, SIDS prevention, genetics vs environment, recommended amounts of sleep at each age/stage and common sleep disorders in early childhood.

This is followed by a journey investigating *‘Sleep throughout history and the impact of modern life’* . This one is a personal favourite, and includes an interesting description of sleep throughout history before going on to discuss changes in society over the past few centuries and their impacts upon sleep. Looking at factors such as artificial light, the effects of red light/blue light upon circadian rhythms, screen time, the increased prevalence of daycare and ‘pre-school’ in recent times and it’s potential impact upon both naps and night time sleep, 

Then we take a look at  *‘Sleep around the world’* in which we explore parenting practices of other cultures and consider the benefits of siestas and later bedtimes (yes, LATER bedtimes!|), carrying and babywearing, bedsharing and co sleeping and support (including lack of) for young families. A point which really resonates with me, having experienced postnatal depression and knowing all too well the impact ‘isolation’ can have.

 *‘The effect of diet on sleep’is discussed next, including consideration of the perpetual ‘debate’ surrounding breastfeeding/formula feeding, dream feeds and weaning in relation to sleep!. Thankfully here we are treated to the truth (I would have expected nothing less from Sarah!) evidence based facts, backed up by scientific research, which I only wish every new parent were provided with...

…On the subject of which, next comes *The problems with modern sleep-training’here we examine concepts such as ‘controlled crying’ (and its various guises!) ‘reward charts’ , sleep training clocks, and self soothing. Now, what really gives this book the edge, in my opinion is the fact that Sarah flips these concepts 360 degrees, giving a whole other perspective (the correct one in my opinion!) of these approaches. From the downsides of adopting these practices, as always backed up with scientific evidence, to the myths of self soothing and the very real risks involved with ‘sleep training’ including the potential long term effects of such methods. This chapter is so absolutely valuable that again, I really do believe all new parents should receive this information!


Next comes *’BEDTIME’:*practical sleep tips’ in which we are introduced to Sarah’s *BEDTIME* approach;

Bed sharing and co sleeping



Transitional objects

IT and screen time

Me- time


This is followed by a thorough explanation of each point, including practical tips suggestions for each.

The remaining chapters contain detailed sleep information for the following age groups;

* birth to three months

* three to six months

* one to two years 

* two to three years 

* three to five years

These chapters also incorporate case studies showing how parents have put the *BEDTIME* approach into practice, as advised by Sarah, with updates on their progress. Again, these provide all important comfort and hope to the reader.

The book concludes with Summary and sleep action plan, here you will find a summary of the points to consider, along with space to create your own personal ‘Parental sleep plan’ using the *BEDTIME* approach.

This is followed by a useful list of resources and recommended products to support you on your journey.



My Thoughts…

I particularly like the way each chapter not only contains evidence based information, so very important and yet so overlooked in today’s society, but also offers practical tips on coping with each issue raised. For example, the impact on sleep of red light/blue light was something I hadn’t previously considered. I since have started setting our nightlights to read rather than blue (a colour i assumed was comforting and soothing for bedtime!) I also really like stories shared by families which serve to further illustrate the points raised while offering all important comfort at the fact that you, as a reader, are not alone.

The Gentle Sleep Book speaks to the reader with respect for their individual family. This is far from the usual ‘one size fits all’ approach and the solutions held within it are not ‘miracle cures’ It is very important to remember that these gentle rhythms and solutions will take time to work ( at LEAST one month is suggested) and it is well worth sticking with them!

With this in mind, we will be implementing Sarah’s *BEDTIME* approach here at Monster House. Over the coming weeks we will be sharing our experience with you, beginning with my next post outlining our very own Sleep Plan…watch this space and please let me know what you think of The Gentle Sleep Book, are you trying this new approach with your family? I would love to know how you get on 🙂


I hope you have enjoyed this review and please do get a copy of this lovely book which is officially released TODAY! either for your own family or for any expectant parents you may know, it really is an invaluable gift  :-

Disclaimer: I was sent this book (free of charge) for review purposes. All opinions are my own.



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