Kris Kasperkiewicz, our lead Sleep Programme developer, recently attended the 2024 IPSA (International Pediatric Sleep Association) congress in Glasgow – here he shares some highlights with our community. 

IPSA 2024 was jam-packed with talks from researchers and leaders in the industry, including some big names such as Jodi Mindel, Paul Gringras, Sarah Blunden and Judith Owens – to name but a few.

There was a fair bit of focus on insomnia, melatonin, narcolepsy and behavioural sleep intervention, in which there is the ongoing debate of efficacy of extinction techniques compared to responsive training.

From research published in 2023, looking at modified and unmodified extinction compared to parental presence in under 1 year olds, the study found improved infant sleep, with no differences in parental sleep, depression or parent-infant bonding.

However, the study has come under some criticism.

Regarding melatonin, targeted, prescribed treatment for neurodivergent children appear to work well, with a low risk profile, but currently we don’t have much data for neurotypical children. The scene in USA is very different, as melatonin is sold as a supplement. This has led to a massive and dangerous sales drive, poor quality, and products such as relaxation drinks, that contain melatonin. Now these type of products are targeting people with no sleep issues (a recent survey of care-givers revealed 24% of those who gave their children melatonin reported no sleep issues).

There were also some nuggets that stood out for me.

Elaine Barry posed the questions “Does your child have a sleep problem or is your child sleep a problem for you”, which is an important part of getting parents to understand what normal looks like.

Perran Boran suggested “Is it sleep training or is it self-soothing?”, and linked this to the difference in children of being able to develop these skills as they grow.

There were also some interesting findings on parental cognition, how this affects any sleep intervention, and how individual preferences may go against societal norms, especially in western countries. To me, this suggests sleep interventions need to suit the parents for the best outcomes.

Interested in a career as a Sleep Expert? Our Sleep Practitioner Programme is the perfect first step towards a rewarding career.

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