If the title of this blog post has caught your eye, the chances are you are experiencing some kind of sleep challenge within your family. You might be considering seeking professional support from a sleep consultant.
If you hire a sleep consultant, you will be paying a professional to equip you with the tools you need to make changes to your child’s sleep. It is vital that the sleep consultant you work with is someone you trust, whose methods align with your parenting style, and in whose credentials you feel confident.
An unregulated profession
Sleep consultancy is an unregulated profession. This means that anyone can call themselves a sleep consultant, setting themselves up in business and trading regardless of qualifications or experience. You may want to ask your potential sleep consultant about their background and what qualifications they hold. Do also bear in mind that there are many different sleep coaching qualifications on the market; these range from two day courses to in-depth, degree level accredited qualifications, so even if they name a qualification, it may be sensible to do some quick research to satisfy yourself of its quality.
As with anything to do with parenting, you will also find a range of styles and approaches to sleep coaching. Parents are often understandably concerned about a sleep consultant’s approach to crying. You may find your sleep consultant tells you that whilst they cannot guarantee there will be no crying, they use gentle methods which don’t involve leaving a baby to cry alone for long periods. This may lead you to feel you have found a sleep consultant whose outlook aligns with yours. But as there is no industry standard definition of the term “gentle”, it is important to understand what the sleep consultant means in practical terms. In addition, a sleep consultant’s ethos is about much more than the thorny question of crying. A good sleep consultant will be able to speak confidently to you about what their methods look like, and why they adopt a particular approach.
Sleep consultants tend to offer a range of support packages, usually summarised on their website. Broadly, the more expensive the package, the more support will be included. A good sleep consultant will talk honestly with you about what package may best suit your needs. If you need a quick steer or to make a few “light touch” changes, a one off telephone consultation may suffice. On the other hand, if the sleep issues you are encountering are deeper rooted, you may want to purchase a package that includes follow up support. Do also bear in mind that different sleep consultants structure their packages differently: consider what type of support and follow up you would prefer, how long you would like the sleep consultant’s support, any time limit on the package you are purchasing, and how you would like to communicate (email, telephone, WhatsApp, etc).
You aren’t hiring a sleep consultant to be your friend, but it is important to work with somebody who shows you empathy and compassion, who offers judgement free advice and who demonstrates flexibility to suit your family’s needs and your parenting style. Many sleep consultants offer a free, no-obligation call to chat through initial questions. Use this call to also consider whether this is a person you would be happy to work with on a personal level.
When you are sleep deprived, the temptation might be to make a quick decision on a sleep consultant so that you can start working together as soon as possible on your child’s sleep. I hope the advice in this post helps you ask the questions that lead you to the right sleep consultant for your family.
StarBright Sleep will start offering sleep consultancy services in early 2020. Follow us @starbrightsleep on Instagram for more information and introductory offers.