Many certified sleep consultants have received training on how to help older children sleep to better. A sleep consultant will be able to discuss the specific sleep issues an older child may be facing with the parent and provide strategies tailored to the needs of the individual child. A major focus of the training I received was how to identify factors that are standing between a child of any age and achieving healthy sleep. Another area that sleep consultants are trained in is how to identify possible red flags for common sleep conditions, like obstructive sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome, in infants and children and refer them to their family physician. Many certified sleep consultants are also trained in specific behavioral modification strategies to gently improve sleep for older children, as well as physiological tools that may be helpful in supporting better sleep, such as routine, a dark sleep environment, and the use of a white noise or other white noise producing device.
It is common for older children who sleep poorly to have also been diagnosed with autism, ADHD, or other special needs. There are many sleep consultants who specialize in working with children with special needs and have a wealth of experience and knowledge to draw from when working with older children with special needs.
If you are the parent of an older child who struggles to get the sleep they need, you are not alone. It is incredibly exhausting and often frustrating to deal with an older child who struggles to fall asleep and stay asleep independently throughout the night – night after night after night. Issues with poor sleep aren’t isolated to the nighttime though- a chronically sleep deprived child will struggle to focus in school and regulate their emotions during the day. It can be hard to keep hearing well-meaning friends and family tell you that your child will “grow out of it,” when the problems your child is facing have been stable or even continuing to increase over a long period of time. One secondary benefit of choosing to work with a certified sleep consultant is being connected to someone who understands what you have been going through and can listen to you and offer suggestions in a non-judgmental way.
To find the sleep consultant who is right for your child, it may be helpful to just call them and ask, or send them an email. Many sleep consultants are happy to talk to prospective clients and answer any questions without an obligation to engage their services.