Stacey Autherson, a local mum, and husband, Brad, were regularly kept up by their energetic young son, Tristan, who would routinely wake up, sometimes seven times, during the night over a period of 18 months.
Sleep-deprived and drowsy, things had gotten so bad that the Donny mum had to change her working hours to better suit their nocturnal routine. With newborn son, Ethan, to add to nighttime activities, both Stacey and Brad would take it in turns to get up and tend to their boys.
Having tried several home remedies and sleep regimes, Stacey was prescribed melatonin for Tristan by the family GP, a naturally occurring hormone which helps the onset of sleep. Although this helped Tristan drop-off initially, the effects were limited and, to the alarm of his parents, the super-charged infant soon built up a tolerance to the nighttime aid after a few weeks.
Just as things seemed hopeless, Stacey and Brad were finally referred to the Children’s Sleep Charity, a sleep clinic funded by NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) which provides advice and support for parents of youngsters having trouble finding their way to the land of nod.
Practitioners from the Charity create, holistic, individual sleep programmes, looking at factors such as family dynamics, how many children are having sleep issues and if the child has any additional needs that may impact on rest. Diet and environment are also looked at, with changes recommended if needed.
Stacey said: “We had almost given up hope before we worked with the sleep clinic because we had tried everything with no result. It’s so hard having a child that doesn’t sleep because you’re just so tired all of the time and it really puts a strain on everything from your home life, working and even your health.
Working with Stacey and Brad, advisors from the Charity helped create a simple, but effective, routine for Tristan offering guidance throughout. Stacey said: “We would get Tristan into his pajamas at 7:00pm, switch off the TV and do a single activity such as drawing, which we were told helps with winding down, after that he would have supper and then get into bed at 8:00pm for a story until he fell asleep.
“When Tristan did wake up in the night he’d be put straight back into bed, enforcing the idea that this was sleep time. It took a few weeks and a lot of perseverance, but with support and advice throughout this period, which helped us keep going, we finally started to see a change.”
Happily, Tristan is now snoozing through the night and Stacey is finally able to get her beauty sleep. Since commissioned by the CCG, The Children’s Sleep Charity has had a good success rate, resolving 95% of all cases seen and with only 2% of clients being referred on to Sheffield Children’s Hospital for further, medical, treatment.
Vicki Dawson, Founder of The Children’s Sleep Charity said: “Our sleep clinics provide families with support to identify why sleep issues may be occurring and then suggesting appropriate strategies to improve their child’s sleep patterns.
“We look at all aspects of the child’s life including diet and bedroom environment before coming up with a sleep programme in partnership with the parents. Our role is to support parents and we offer a follow up service by either telephone or email.”
Dr Nick Tupper, chair of the CCG, said: “It’s important that when we commission services, we look to innovate and care for people in a holistic way. The Children’s Sleep Clinic offer support and advice for parents seemingly in a hopeless situation, helping them persevere and find a solution for some very tired nights. It’s good to see a success story in young Tristan and this is a testament to the work being done by the charity.”
The Children’s Sleep Charity support all sleepless children and teenagers from 12 months to 18 years old. To contact the service, please send an email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07912 667676.