So I’m going to be brutally honest and transparent in my blog post but honesty is the best policy, yes? Let’s take a look at the sleep consultant industry and working with a sleep consultant.
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Supporting families with sleep difficulties
I love the fact I’ve now retrained as a sleep consultant and am able to set up my own business, be my own boss and help families who are in dire need of some extra shut eye.
The families I’ve supported have done incredible jobs at following my plans and have worked so hard to improve sleep at night. When working with a sleep consultant, the right tools and strategies lead to positive changes. This means they no longer wake multiple times at night, have more time for themselves and more energy to play with their babies in the day.
Sleep deprivation is a killer. Families no longer do the school run when they’ve been up all night and driving tired is the same or even worse than driving drunk. Families now feel fully supported, confident and in control.
Sleeping well has a huge and underestimated impact on positive mental health and well-being for parents and their babies. The investment in sleep training can be literally life changing.
Child sleep is not straight forward, access to guidance should be easy
I also believe that currently there is a huge need for this sleep support. Until they are about 3 years of age, children will sleep for longer in a 24 hour period than they are awake.
In the UK, there’s a wealth of support for families throughout pregnancy and birth, when making feeding choices and understanding their baby’s developmental needs but there is such a lack of support to help families understand sleep.
There are confusing expectations around what’s normal for a baby at their age and parents may feel pressurised to keep up with Mum ‘A’ and her wonder child who has slept through the night since 8 weeks. It’s when many families consider working with a sleep consultant.
Sleep consultant industry: training and professional development
Yes, having a newborn is tiring and exhausting, but some small changes and pieces of advice can make things so much better. This is why it’s important that sleep coaches, specialists, coaches and consultants are well trained and understand both the biological and psychological aspects of sleep.
There is an importance to maintain currency, need to engage in professional development, be evidence based and have a healthy appetite for finding the best training and continuous improvement. This allows them to provide the best quality service and have good outcomes when working with sleep problems.
I’ve worked in medical education and professional development for 10 years and the further and higher eduction sector prior to that.
Courses are unregulated, but the expertise is out there!
It sits uncomfortably with me that I’ve chosen to work in an industry that is unregulated. Honestly, you can go on a quick online course or just a weekend course and start working as a sleep consultant. This is misleading, bad for parents and bad for babies and children.
This post is not about bad-mouthing some extremely hard-working practitioners and not every amateur is trying to masquerade as an expert but I just feel it’s important to be transparent with parents about the industry. I really want working with a sleep consultant to be positive, for all.
Improving a child’s sleep, but safely
Sleep specialists need to practice safely within their remit and learning boundaries is a hugely important part of training. They need to know what are significant red flags for children, what issues need a referral to other professionals and also be comfortable checking with mum whether she’s just tired or actually has post-natal depression and needs urgent support from her GP.
Feel confident in course content
I chose a course that required 6 months of study and a minimum number of volunteer clients to apply the theory learnt to practice. The company I trained with also provides ongoing continuous professional development and facilitates a large global network of consultants I can work alongside to ensure I’m not practicing alone. This means for even the most tricky client, my network will have experienced something similar so solutions can be found and the outcome is successful.
This training, together with my extensive work history and educational qualifications (check these out on my About Me page or via LinkedIn) gives me the knowledge and confidence to support and guide you to make the right choices.
Morally, I have also chosen to apply the same principles to my ongoing education that you would expect from any other UK registered health or medical professional including a minimum number of hours of education each year and ongoing reflective practice. I founded The Child Sleep Society to provide these opportunities to other consultants as well.
Thinking about sleep training? Working with a sleep consultant.
As a first step, I suggest you ask these questions to help you decide before working with a sleep consultant to choose:
1. What is their specific sleep consultant training and how long did it take?
2. How many clients did they support in training?
3. What is their background prior to working in the industry?
4. What sleep training methods do they utilise and support? Some will promote the use of just one method which may not suit all situations.
5. What do they do to maintain their knowledge and stay up to date?
Remember, a consultant worth their weight in gold will answer these questions happily.
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