It’s a question that comes up organically when you meet someone at the park, stand in line for an event, or sit next to someone at a playgroup. You naturally find yourself making small talk with a new acquaintance and it’s inevitable someone, perhaps during an awkward moment of silence, asks what you do for a living. When I say that I’m a Certified Child Sleep Consultant and give my quick one-liner description, I get a plethora of responses. But, lately, the one I hear most is, “Boy! I sure wish I had one of you years ago!”
Pediatric Sleep Consulting is not necessarily a new field, but it is certainly one that is gaining momentum. And it is easy to see why. According to a new study conducted by the University of Warwick, parents experience six years of sleepless nights when they have their first child. Yes, the occasional sickness or nightmare is to blame. But, it certainly goes without saying that if parents did not know how to help their children sleep well, their own sleep suffered drastically. When we couple this new research with the fact that we’ve learned so much more about sleep and its impact on overall health, a sleep consultant’s role is needed now more than ever.
Having hired one myself and later going on to train with the Family Sleep Institute, I find myself breaking up the role of a child sleep consultant into 3 categories. And being that I am a former high school teacher, the irony is not lost:
We are your teacher. A Certified Sleep Consultant has spent hours upon hours understanding the science of sleep. We understand words like circadian rhythm, sleep pressure, and REM versus NREM. We know the vital role that sleep plays in not only a child’s life but also a parent, and we are passionate about sharing that fact. We are aware that there is a mountain of information out there that can be contradictory and confusing. So as your teacher, we take out the guesswork and provide you with facts, data, and proof so that you, our student, better understand the truth behind sleep.
We are your coach. Once we understand a bit more about your particular needs, goals and parenting philosophy, the real work can begin. A sleep consultant provides each family with their own, personalized sleep plan. It’s a plan that you won’t get in a book, a blog, or a YouTube video because it is customized just for you! Once you receive your sleep plan, our coaching hats are on and our whistle is in hand. You take to the field and we stand on the sideline as you begin to teach your child their new sleeping skills. It’s our way of empowering you to pick up the ball and run all on your own. And if you have a small blip along the way, we are right there with you to change course or offer our encouragement.
We are your cheerleader. As you start to implement your plan and begin to see the life changing results, we are there to cheer you on! I can speak from experience that nothing thrills me more in this line of work than when I hear about my client’s victories. We are jumping up and down as you run towards that end zone and though every little detail might not be 100% worked through once our time is over, we know that you have the tools you need to finish the game. And we will continue to pull for you and your child even when you aren’t looking.
So, you see it is really quite simple. For most of us sleep consultants, these are the roles we were born to play. And as you welcome us into your lives for even just a brief moment, presenting us with your challenges, inspiring us to do our best, we walk away certain that we are teaching the right class, coaching the right game, and cheering for the right team.