1. Education & Training:
The education and training you require are vital to establishing a legitimate and trustworthy business. Ensure you obtain adequate education and training in sleep science and behaviours. This can be done through courses, certifications or other relevant training programs. Many of these courses can be carried out online making them more accessible for you to carry out and in a flexible way. Being able to share your education with prospective parents is a powerful tool for them to feel they are using an ‘expert’ and someone who has the skills and knowledge they require.
2. Personal Experience:
Having personal experience in managing sleep-related issues, particularly with infants and young children, can be helpful. This can give you an understanding of the challenges parents face and how to provide effective solutions. Being able to share your personal stories will make you relatable and provides hope to parents and carers that they too can solve their sleep problems. In this career choice your clients will choose YOU. Ensuring you can show you fully understand their worries, and have experienced them yourself, can help build strong relationships.
3. Empathy and Patience:
Being a sleep practitioner requires empathy and patience, especially when working with parents who are sleep-deprived and frustrated. You must be able to put yourself in their shoes and offer support and guidance without judgment or criticism. Your clients will often feel like they are at ‘breaking point’ and this may also put strain on things such as their relationship with each other. Being mindful of your client’s emotional state is important and ensuring you are a supportive ear.
4. Communication Skills:
Strong communication skills are critical to becoming a successful Sleep Practitioner. You must be able to listen carefully to parents, explain sleep science in easy-to-understand terms and help them implement strategies effectively. Effective communication builds good relationships and trust. It is also important to ensure you are ‘on the same page’ as your clients and they have full understanding of what is expected of them for positive sleep behavioural changes.
5. Flexibility and Adaptability:
Every family and child is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to sleep advice. A good Sleep Practitioner must be flexible and adaptable in their approach and be able to customise their strategies based on each family’s needs. It can at times feel frustrating when your initial plans and ideas may not be as effective as you hoped, and have been before. Each child will bring new and individual problems and being flexible enough to constantly ‘tweak’ and change their sleep programs is important.
6. Business Skills:
Starting your own Sleep Practitioner Business requires business skills, such as marketing, accounting and customer service. Make sure you have a solid understanding of these areas before launching your business. You will also need to register with HMRC to complete your tax self-assessment annually. It may be effective for your business to open a social media business page and even a website. These skills can be obtained through online courses or practising on the platforms yourself although the latter can take a larger amount of time.
7. Ethical Considerations:
As a Sleep Practitioner, you will be working with vulnerable families and children, and it is essential to approach your work with a strong ethical code. Always prioritise the well-being of the child and ensure that your practices are safe, evidence-based and transparent. You may be asked about techniques which you do not promote and you must ensure that even when your clients feel desperate you maintain your ethics and morals of your business.
Working as a Sleep Practitioner can be emotionally and mentally taxing. It is crucial to prioritize self-care and develop strategies to manage stress and prevent burnout. Ensuring you are available for parents to contact you is important, but you must also ensure you have set working hours and stick to them. Turning off from social media comments or messages may be helpful in an evening. As long as your families are aware you will reply to their messages promptly in your working hours this is acceptable and fair to your own work/life balance.
9. Continuing Education:
Sleep science is constantly evolving, and it is important to stay up-to-date with the latest research and developments. Make sure you commit to ongoing learning and professional development by investing in yourself. Reaching out to up-to-date courses and finding information that aids your continuous professional development (CPD) is vital to staying abreast of new trends and research.
10. Being Committed:
Like any new business it may take time for you to initially obtain your first clients. It is important you do not give up at the first hurdle and retain commitment to your business. You must ensure you show up and apply all you have learnt to grow your business. Only you can make it happen! It is important to remember at these challenging times that what makes your business special is YOU! There is only one of you so no one else can develop a business exactly the same as yours. You can do this!