Below, is a Q&A with our sleep practitioner trainer, Rozanne
Q: What do you currently do?
As well as content development and course delivery for the London School of Childcare Studies’ Sleep Practitioner programme, I am also an active Child Sleep Consultant, supporting families to maximise their sleep potential.
Alongside this, I am also the Director of Continuing Education for the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants (IACSC).
In addition to this, I am a regular contributor and speaker on various platforms including trade fairs and several books.
Q: How long have you been involved in sleep and how did you get into this field?
I’ve worked with families for over 30 years. Sleep and lack of sleep touch on many aspects of our daily lives. It quickly became apparent to me that something we take for granted may impact our wellbeing significantly.
My first exposure to the science of the human body was way before any intentional journey – growing up I would sit in on chats between my father, a parasitologist, and his colleagues who worked in microbiology and virology.
Some years later, in my job I was tasked to support a baby to maximise their sleep potential, so that community services would be able to take over. I read many books on the subject and realised some were unscientific, and essential information was either missed or packaged in such a way that it wasn’t easily accessible – information should be practical and simplistic, to explain at the very least the basic fundamentals to sleep.
This experience inspired my interest, leading me to build upon the broad knowledge and understanding I had acquired, ultimately putting me on a path to becoming a sleep practitioner.
Q: What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of being a sleep practitioner?
Unravelling complex and challenging scenarios. The first step is to gather information and break it down. Then you need to piece these sections together in order to solve the puzzle. It’s that ‘aha’ moment when you find clarity and can set a plan in motion that is really rewarding.
Also, sharing tangible and instrumental help with families, and empowering them to make their own choices guided by a sound understanding of the situation.
Q: What are some of the challenges you face?
Depending on how you choose to offer your services, the role of a sleep practitioner can lead to unsociable hours.
Also, most contracts begin when the families are at their lowest ebb. We are likely to leave them when they are well rested and happy, but the initial meetings can be hard.
There is also a lack of regulation in the industry, which means there are practicing sleep consultants that fail to resolve issues and potentially make things worse. Figures show that sleep training does not work in about 20% of cases, and this is evident in the referral cases I receive, essentially to fix a poor outcome.
Industry bodies, such as the IACSC, help, in that they have eligibility criteria and members are encouraged to continue their professional development.
Q: You mention the IACSC..
There are several industry bodies around, but the International Association for Child Sleep Consultants is the only registered association in this sector. The IACSC offers continuous professional development with frequent guests including leading sleep paediatricians and practitioners.
Without regulation for sleep consulting, I frequently recommend parents engage our members for advice and support as we are able to follow up.
Q: Our knowledge of sleep is ever expanding. How do you keep on top of what’s new in the industry?
As sleep information is constantly developing, I found attending conferences extremely valuable to my growth and understanding. A silver lining from the pandemic is that accessing these platforms is now much easier with recent online options.
Every sleep book, course or sleep event has a nugget or 3 to offer. Nothing is wasted. The takeaway from this is that no one book, training or live event is better than another, they all offer something unique, which compliments a practitioners skill set.
Q. Anything new and exciting that is emerging?
In sleep there is a constant trickle of research that reinforces the importance of adequate REM sleep, and good quality night sleep for health, development, weight maintenance, growth and wellbeing. We can’t underestimate the value of sleep.
A recent study found that more sleep awakenings were associated with being above the 95th percentile on the WHO weight charts. One additional sleep hour a night reduced this risk by 26% (Li et al., 2021).
Q: And I’ve heard that you have contributed to a number of books..
Yes…this is true. The most recent is titled ‘Still Awake’. Here I share our journey with our son with complex apnoea and the emerging management options.
I have also contributed to Fearne Cotton’s book ‘Quiet’ covering sleep hygiene, and to the Holistic Sleep Coach. A further 2 received a Mumsnet award.
Q: Any books you would particularly recommend, especially for someone starting out?
My golden books are:
- Healthy sleep habits, happy child 5th ed., Dr. Marc Weissbluth
- Holistic Sleep Coach, Lyndsey Hookway
- Teach your child to sleep, Millpond sleep clinic
- Sleeping through the night, Jodi Mindel
- The Sleep Lady’s good night sleep tight, Kim West
- Loved to sleep, Andrea Strang and Jen Varela
Q: What are your top 3 tips for getting a good night’s sleep?
- Take a late afternoon walk (before sunset)
- Set a bath/bedtime routine
- Encourage a healthy positive attitude around sleep. Children need to feel safe, calm and secure to stay asleep and to sleep well.