Ellie Clarke was invited onto Rutland Radio to be interviewed by Lydia Meredith, to discuss children's sleep difficulties.
Around 40% of typically developing children have sleep difficulties ( rising to 70- 80% of children with disabilities and / or additional needs). A sleep difficulty can present as ; struggling in falling asleep ( self settling) with disruptive behaviour at bedtime, waking in the night and disturbing the sleep of other family members, sharing a bed with parents or early waking.
A good nights sleep is essential for the physical, emotional and mental well being of children (and their parents / carers!) Restful and adequate sleep supports optimal performance, participation and engagement in daily life.
Children with sleep issues can present with difficulties with attention, concentration and behaviour which in turn impact on their learning ability.
Not getting enough sleep can impact on a child’s growth and their overall ability to reach their full potential.
Sleep deprivation can have a huge impact on parents and carers, with relationships, health and well being, and work being affected. The sleep pattern of siblings can be disrupted, resulting in difficulty in participating in daily routines (such as school).
As a Paediatric Occupational Therapist and a Certified Sleep Practitioner, I am experienced in supporting the learning, development and participation of children.
Using a behavioural approach to sleep I will investigate your child's sleep history through sleep diaries, parental questionnaire and through telephone / Zoom / FaceTime or face to face consultation (within 15 miles of PE6 0DJ) in your home.
This information will lead to a bespoke sleep programme / strategies and advice to suit your child and family's individual needs. This family centred approach does NOT include leaving your child to “cry it out”, which is distressing for both child and family.
Sleep and diet
Creating a Sleep friendly bedroom
Supporting Sensory needs at bedtime
Relaxation tips to help sleep
The importance of routine
Strategies to support self settling
Sleep support provides parents with the knowledge, tools and strategies to promote good sleep hygiene, remove inappropriate sleep associations and night time waking and to encourage independent self settling.
We contacted Ellie Clarke (the School OT) at a rather desperate time. We had been struggling with our 10 year old daughter’s sleep on and off all her life and she had never been good at sleeping alone, self soothing and staying in her bed. After some behavioural issues led to her being in her own room, we really hit an all time low. After weeks and weeks of sustained stressful bed times, late nights and no one sleeping – we had a very distressed and tired girl, not to mention us tired and emotionally rung out as parents.
The process with Ellie was very personable and most importantly, for us, Ellie was able to help us straight away. After a lengthy phone consultation with Ellie, where we felt listened to (not judged in any way) Ellie put together a very simple but extremely effective sleep programme for us to follow. This involved a routine for a calm bedtime and a ‘gradual retreat’ strategy to deal with building our daughter’s confidence to fall asleep alone and go back to bed calmly when she woke in the night.
At that time the best thing was how quickly Ellie got back to us with the plan so that we could put it into practice immediately. The plan was clear, concise and easy to follow. As advised and as expected things did get worse before they got better but we were prepared for that and Ellie was at the end of the phone or an email when we needed her, always responding quickly with great support and advice.
Almost 4 weeks on, our bedtime routine is transformed, we now have a calm bedtime, which allows us to spend time with each of our children and our older daughter now confidently falls asleep quickly and we are all much happier as we are sleeping better. Ellie’s support has given us so much confidence.
The changes are notable, my daughter’s behaviour is better, her anxiety seems reduced and on a walk the other day she actually said “I am sleeping so well” we are all just so much happier, calmer, and in control of bed times, which in turn makes the days easier too.
Thank you Ellie.
Our 3 year old has struggled with sleep since she was a baby. She didn’t really nap during the day and then started to struggle at night often waking me 5 or 6 times each night. Trying to work full time and manage this was becoming very difficult. Ellie was fantastic and took the time to really understand the issues and suggest some practical solutions. Within a week she was settling much better and started to sleep through the night. Ellie also helped when we had a set back and we returned to waking at night time. Ellie guided us through this process too. Thank you so much Ellie.
Delighted Mum, Lincolnshire
We were having real difficulty in calming our 2 year old daughter at bedtime, she was over excited and bedtime was a real ordeal for us all. After an initial consultation with Ellie, where we explained our issues, Ellie devised a sleep programme for our daughter that was easy for us to follow and which was very effective almost immediately. Ellie supported us each step of the way and was very quick to reply to any questions and to reassure us if we started to doubt ourselves. We now have a tranquil atmosphere leading up to bedtime with a happy daughter and relaxed parents. An invaluable service!
Wendy K , London