Sleep clinics and schools for adults

A sleep clinic is a reception centre which studies sleep disturbances such as chronic insomnia and related diseases. A sleep clinic aims to find out causes for insomnia and to identify appropriate treatment(s) for a patient. A person suffering long-term sleep problems should always be directed to further examination and to sleep experts who have the knowledge and the equipment to make the necessary sleep registrations. This seems not to be the case in most EU countries based on several discussions with people who suffer with sleep problems (prescribing sleeping pills seems to be the priority in the whole western world).

Sleep registration (such as a large sleep polygraph) enables a detailed survey of all sleep cycles, stages and events during the night. Sleep study also registers EEG (records the brain’s electrical activity), EKG (records the heart’s electrical activity), breathing (airflow, respiratory movement, oxygen content, snoring), blood pressure (continuously), limb movements,  sleep positions and it also video-monitors events during the night.

If you are suffering from severe deprivation or if an excessive sleep problem is having a serious impact on your health and well-being, seek medical advice. Sleep problems that may be diagnosed and treated at a sleep centre/sleep clinic include insomnia, restless leg syndrome, narcolepsy, sleep apnoea/apnea, delayed sleep phase syndrome/disorder and snore.

Patient is normally asked to keep a sleep diary. When a diagnosis has been made and the treatment has been started, a doctor often tracks and meets the patient every second month (or a minimum of every six months) until the sleep-wake cycle and overall quality of life is satisfactory. The patient is advised to join sleep groups if progress is slow and/or unsatisfactory. Some people enjoy group dynamics and some individual coaching. In groups you get more information on sleep hygiene, do relaxation practices and can share experiences. Individual sleep therapy is usually a holistic and tailored treatment for sleep problems. The patient is coached to make the necessary life style and attitude changes that maintain insomnia and block good sleep. This kind of individual treatment can for example consist of 5 sessions every two weeks (plus homework).

There are many private ‘sleep schools’ available sharing different approaches and methods. Some of them are more about cognitive methods and CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) focusing on several aspects and good sleep hygiene and some are more about mindfulness and acceptance theories aiming to accept insomnia rather than fight against it (focus on breathing , relaxation, ‘nothingness’ and letting go). Here are some examples of sleep schools.

  • The London Sleep Center combines a medical, psychological, social and holistic treatment package that is tailored for every patient.
  • The Sleep School pioneers a combination of acceptance and mindfulness theories/methods.
  • Sleep Scotland is specialized treating families with behavioral and cognitive techniques.

Sleep schools for toddlers

Toddler sleep problems are different than those with babies.  Toddlers are mobile and able to express themselves and make demands. Key problems are usually related to going to sleep or staying asleep. Toddlers (1-3 years) usually need 12-14 hours of sleep during a day. They sleep up to 12 hours at night and 1.5-2 hours during daytime naps. This said the definition of a sleep problem you experience with your toddler depends on your ability to cope with interrupted sleep and family dynamics.

There is often heated debate around the topic: whether you should intervene or just leave the child alone to learn to comfort him/herself. At the end of the day you are in charge of deciding what works best for your family. Following tips might guide you on the right track. Pay attention to helpful bedtime routines (keep the atmosphere calm, keep the timing the same, keep routines the same as kids love ‘familiar’ repetition). A typical routine could be something like: evening milk/snack, bath, brushing teeth, pyjamas, story, cuddle and sleep. There are lots of variations on this theme and it’s the most important thing to find your own evening routine that you like and can stick to.

At mumsnet.com you can find much more advice how to keep your toddler asleep through the night and how to teach him/her to fall asleep on his/her own and much more. Dr. Marc Weissbluth promises to make your kid sleep in 30 days with his kids sleep training.

Sleep school for babies

Babies normally sleep for 12-18 hours a day. Newborn baby may sleep up to 18 hours a day. Infants (1-3 months) sleep ~14-15 hours a day. When we refer to problems with sleep with babies we mean persistent night-waking by some babies who really don’t need to wake up (for milk or for medicine or for reassurance in a strange place) but who do it anyway – a lot.

Sleep training is all about teaching your baby to settle herself back to sleep when she wakes at night, rather than relying on you to tip up and help her out. And you do this either by ignoring her completely when she wakes or by responding to her in a particular (and rather lukewarm) way. You can find much more information here:

 

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