What You Must Know Before Hiring a Sleep Consultant

What You Must Know Before Hiring a Sleep Consultant

Before we get to the juicy stuff, let’s answer a question that may be entering your brain right about now: “What is a sleep consultant?”

A sleep consultant helps you sleep better… that’s pretty obvious. But what wasn’t clear to me until I got into the wellness world was the fact that sleep specialists are medical doctors who have completed additional training and education in the field of sleep medicine. (And while we’re here, sleep medicine isn’t just a bunch of over-the-counter-knock-you-out-pills. The term “sleep medicine” refers to a specific field that focuses on sleep, sleep disorders, and sleep-related conditions.) We all know we’re supposed to get more sleep. We’ve been told since we were two years old that sleep is good for you. It’s a well-known fact that sleeping well makes you happier and healthier! Sleep medicine specialists diagnose and treat a number of sleep-related conditions, including excessive snoring, insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and circadian rhythm disorders.

Carolina’s bio: You never thought you could be so excited yet so exhausted with your new child. Sometimes it takes a little extra coaching to get your new baby on the right sleep schedule. Carolina is a Certified Child and Family Sleep Consultant, specializing in pediatric sleep hygiene and behavioral coaching. Carolina is based in New York City and has dedicated her career to reducing sleep deprivation. She has written for many popular parenting blogs, and has even used her own methods to help her own family get a good night’s sleep! Carolina is the go-to-expert for many new and working parents. So whether you’re returning to work or you just want a bit of shut-eye, Carolina will get your family on track for those Zzz’s. She has 2 toddlers of her own. And yes, they sleep. A lot.

And, without further ado, here is a guest post written by our wonderful provider, Carolina!

Firstly, before even considering hiring a sleep consultant, you need to understand the process and what an actual sleep consultant does. It is still a fairly new industry that is on the rise because of its huge demand. If you are thinking or currently actively looking for a sleep consultant for your family, there are several things you should look into before hiring one. Currently, this is an unregulated industry and more and more sleep consultants are emerging.

Sleeping woman

Sleep consultants are non medical sleep health professionals who help their clients with achieving healthy sleep. We come in all different shapes and sizes, specializing in a vast number of areas. Some focus primarily on infant sleep. Some focus on infant and toddler sleep. Some focus on all ages, from pediatric to geriatric sleep. All the while utilizing sleep hygiene and behavioral coaching to help their clients achieve their sleep goals. A sleep consultant doesn’t and cannot perform treatments on sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and any other neurological issues. That needs to be communicated to a board certified sleep specialist that will be conducting sleep studies on how to properly treat the issue.
So how do we maneuver through the vast growing weeds of sleep consultants and specialists? How do you hire the RIGHT person for your family?
I will walk you through a few key points that will have you feeling confident in moving forward with the perfect sleep consultant for you.

Firstly, jotting down the qualities that you are looking for in a sleep consultant. Who is also your coach during the process. You want to make sure you can connect with them. That you mesh well 🙂 Not just through the help with sleep, but also in parent coaching. Their ability to call you out if you are going back to your old patterns. Many times, when parents reach out to a sleep consultant, it is because things have really hit the fan. They have exhausted all of their options, including waiting it out and hoping it will resolve itself. For example, one day your child miraculously slept through the night and you will hold that day on a shiney diamond platter and pray to the sleep gods that it continues and that it wasn’t a fluke night. Which then, in most cases it will not continue and you’re back to square one. So the first thing, is taking out a sheet of paper, and writing down verbatim what you expect in your sleep consultant.

Do you want them to sleep over and show you how to actually go through the entire process with you?

Do you prefer to learn through communication virtually, such as Skype or email sessions?

Do they need to speak another language because your nanny does or will google translate be sufficient?

Do you have other children, and you need help to create a schedule that will balance the entire family?

Are you the only one that can implement all the techniques or is their someone else that can be involved during the process?

Are you looking for someone that specializes in infant sleep, toddler sleep, multiples, or special need cases?

Do you want a sleep specialist that resides locally. Such as a sleep specialist in New York or New Jersey?

Do you live in another time zone and would like to find a sleep consultant virtually? Understanding the time difference is important when you are communicating.

How much communication and hand holding are you needing during the process?

Do you want to move gradually with the methods or something more direct such as extinction (AKA CIO)?

These are just a few questions you should Think about before hiring a sleep consultant.

You want someone that is a good fit, that will hold you accountable and someone that will say, “ hey, you know. I am seeing that you are going back into your old habits. “ Being willing to thoughtfully call you out. That is the KEY thing you need when you are in the mist of sleep fog and just going through the changes.

Now. Go ahead. Write down your questions. I’ll wait.

baby sleeping well through the night

Ok. You good? Great. Now that we know what qualities we want in our sleep consultant, let’s open up google or the mommy group you belong to and let’s find you your perfect sleep consultant. Now remember how I mentioned earlier that this is an unregulated industry? So when you start googling or getting recommendations. Please keep in mind that qualifications is KEY. Since it is currently unregulated, there are sleep consultants out there that may have their own wonderful children and maybe they have done pretty well sleep coaching their own children or their friends kids. Which may think that may qualify them to dive into this field. It’s like me saying, I have a car, but that doesn’t make me a mechanic.

You need to look into the other things that they can potentially bring to the table and what they have received in the form of sleep education. Here are a few questions you should ask during your get acquainted call with them. Or in my practice, our sleep strategy session 😉

What kind of specialized sleep education do you have with working with children? How many hours were invested in the education?

You would be surprised that some have a weekend crash course, or zero at all. This includes health professionals such as pediatricians, nurses and therapists in the health industry. Shocking, I know. Especially since they are the number one person you go to regarding your babies health.

Shocking Fact … “Surveys were completed by directors of 152 pediatric residency programs across 10 countries…Overall, the average amount of time spent on sleep education is 4.4 hours (median = 2.0 hours), with 23% responding that their pediatric residency program provides no sleep education.” Read the full study here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3621514/
I studied over 126 hours through Family Sleep Institute while pregnant with baby 2 and my oldest was 1 year at the time and working full time at a financial securities investment firm. I got you covered in sleep 😉

Is there continued education you are required to receive?
What ages do you work with?
What is your success rate?

If you get someone that says 100% success rate, run for the hills because that isn’t realistic. Sleep training is a team effort and some parents may feel that they are ready to begin when working with a consultant, and the process maybe not quite what they envisioned and they need to pause. Every family dynamic is different. This isn’t a race and your sleep consultant should never make you feel like it is.

5. What kind of health scenarios do you work with? Such as ADHD, epilepsy, autism,

Your sleep consultant should have a good connection, a good network affiliation with medical doctors in the field. It is important that they can refer out when the situation is out of their scope. Such as psychological or neurological sleep disorders for children. That needs to properly be evaluated by a medical practitioner that studies that in the field.

6. What is the follow up support they will provide you?

Sometimes it’s not so helpful to have a one time call or once a week check in when your current case is short naps, constant night wakings, rocking to sleep, or feeding to sleep. Within a weeks time, a lot of things can change and if they are not tracked on a daily basis, you might not see the results you expected. So a really great sleep coach will be available to you daily. Know what you need and don’t be afraid to ask for it. So if it isn’t included in the package, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

One main thing that I can attest for in being in this industry for several years now and a 98% success rate 😉 is that understanding your WHY, in why you want to hire a professional to help you in the first place is the biggest thing you need to. Because that is what will keep you motivated and on target to achieve your goals.

So, with ALL of this said, well, written in this case, there is some homework for you, my love, when hiring the right person to become a part of your family in getting you healthy sleep.

Wishing you sweet dreams,

Carolina, Sleep Consultant

We hope you enjoyed this blog by our fantastic provider, Carolina! If you would like me to connect you with one of our expert specialists, please contact me. I look forward to hearing from you!

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