We know that sleep affects every single aspect of our waking lives – our mood, behaviour, physical and mental well-being, and our performance. Disruption to our sleep can have far-reaching consequences.
All children experience sleep difficulties at some point, whether it’s refusing to go to bed, having difficulty going to sleep, not wanting to sleep alone, waking up during the night, waking up early – or something else. However, while all children can have some issues with sleep, in typically developing children these problems tend to improve as they grow older. For children with neurodevelopmental conditions sleep difficulties tend to be much more common and more persistent. This has a long-term impact on the wellbeing, not only of the child, but the whole family.
We know that there aren’t enough services available to support families to overcome sleep difficulties with their disabled child. Added to this, there is currently relatively limited research in this area and so we know least about the children for whom sleep problems are the most common.
- We want to be an authority on childhood sleep disturbances, especially for families of children with neurodevelopmental conditions.
- We want to use our experience and knowledge to speak out authoritatively, lobby for change and support families.
- We want to monitor the dramatic impact the Coronavirus pandemic has had on families and their sleep and work with families to understand their needs and develop measures to help.
What we’re doing:
We have a range of services to support families who have a child with a brain condition who isn’t sleeping well:
- Our dedicated Sleep Advice Service offers one to one telephone support to families.
- We run workshops for parents and carers where they can come for advice and meet other families with shared experiences.
- Our informative resources are free to download – our Sleep Tips booklet introduces and explains different techniques that may improve a child’s sleep while our comprehensive Parent Guide on Sleep offers more in depth advice.
- We also fund research into to try to understand why sleep problems occur and help families find solutions to them.
In 2021 we want to:
- Continue investing in innovative research into sleep in children with neurodevelopmental conditions. If we can understand the unique challenges these children face, we can transform that knowledge into support mechanisms that can really make a difference. Our research partners are the Cerebra Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders and University College London.
- Give 450 families one-to-one support to resolve their sleep problems.
- Expand our programme of sleep workshops for parents and carers and offer them online so that even more families can have access to the support they need.
- Deliver accredited training for frontline professionals who are already supporting families but who may not have knowledge of or training in sleep issues.
- Develop a Sleep app in association with University College London to help families who have children with neurodevelopmental disorders to access guidance that is specific to their needs.