What is sleep counselling

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We provide sleep counselling to parents and carers of children and young people from 18 months to 18 years with additional support needs or with mental health conditions.

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First steps

First, check out our map of services to find out if there is a sleep counsellor working in your area.

Sleep counsellors are trained by Sleep Action, but don’t work for us. This means they all have their own criteria for the children they are able to work with, so check the referral criteria for each one. The map also explains how to make a referral in your area.

Sleep counsellors service map

"After four years of sleep deprivation and working full-time it was taking its toll. I can’t thank you enough. At first I didn’t think it would work – how wrong was I!"Sleep Scotland user

Working with a sleep counsellor

Our sleep counsellors work with families over a series of sessions. In your first session, the sleep counsellor will take a sleep history. This will include, for example, questions about evening and daytime routines, what your child’s bedroom is like, and night-time behaviour. They may also ask you to keep sleep diaries. All of this helps give a full overview of the existing sleep problem and how best to support your family. This first session may take up to 1.5 hours.

The sleep counsellor will put together a sleep plan for you: this is tailored around your child and individual situation. Our sleep counsellors are trained to support parents and carers by giving them specific, tried and tested behavioural and cognitive techniques to adapt their child’s night-time behaviour.

The sleep counsellor will continue to check in with you regularly, either in a meeting or over the phone, to monitor how things are going, and help with any problems that come up.

It’s not usually necessary to bring your child along to the sessions — the sleep counsellor will discuss with you if and when they should meet your child.

All our sleep counselling services are free.

Young people with mental health problems regularly report sleep disturbances, which contribute to their worries: for anxiety disorders, this can be as high as 88%.

Further information

Sleep counsellors often have waiting lists, and there may be a delay before they’re able to start work with you. If this is the case, families living in Scotland can also contact our Sleep Support Line for telephone support in the meantime.

The aim of the sleep intervention is to promote improved sleep patterns. Sleep Scotland may suggest delaying the start of an intervention if it considers the programme inappropriate for any child or family. This includes, but is not limited to, medical issues that need to be investigated. It also disclaims any responsibility for a failure to improve, or any unforeseen circumstances.

If, during the course of the sleep counsellor’s contact with your child and family, information becomes available which indicates that your child may be at risk of harm, this information will be passed on to the designated child protection lead, in line with their own organisation’s policies.

What support is available?

Our sleep support service offers Sleep Scotland’s tailored support by telephone to:

  • Families living in Scotland with a child with sleep problems, aged between 18 months and 18 years. Anyone is welcome to contact the service, your child does not need to have a diagnosis or additional support need.
  • Teenagers are also welcome to contact us directly

Our Support Line Team will complete an initial sleep history, asking questions on current routines, diet, exercise, and the sleep problem. This can take around an hour. They will then create a sleep plan based on the responses. For those families who require it, follow up calls are also available.

Policy Statement
Our Policy Statement is available for more information on our service standards, including confidentiality and concerns over child protection.

Evaluation
An evaluation of our Sleep Support Line was completed in November 2020. This can be found here.

Find out more

Get in touch to find out more about the services, information and support we offer.