HappySleepers are a team of child psychologists offering expert help and advice on sleep from babies (9 months plus) to adolescents. Our work is based on the latest research in children’s sleep and psychological theory, including effective assessment and interventions to change behaviours.
We take a holistic view of your child’s sleep needs, considering sleep / wake patterns but also broader aspects such as daytime behaviour, communication skills, sensory needs, anxiety and attachment. Approaches used are adapted to the needs of the child and family and may include behavioural interventions (including gentle techniques), cognitive behavioural approaches (how we think, behave and feel), solution-focused techniques, systemic practice (looking at family interactions) and attachment theory (building trust and bonding). We can also help children with special educational needs.
We establish an approach that best complements your parenting philosophy and your child’s developmental needs. We worked online and are able to support families in any location.
We are chartered educational and child psychologists who are skilled and experienced in providing a psychological service to support children and families in the area of sleep. We have all completed a high level of specialist training in paediatric sleep and are passionate about this area of practice. We are all members of the British Psychological Society, the British Sleep Society, and are registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
Jenny Stephenson is the director of HappySleepers and a chartered educational psychologist. She is passionate about raising awareness of the importance of sleep on children’s development and applying evidence-based practice to support families and schools in this area. She has worked as an educational psychologist for the local authority since 2005 and her practice has included training for schools, parents and professionals on understanding and managing children’s sleep and training for schools on promoting healthy sleep. Jenny also tutors students and other psychologists on an advanced level paediatric sleep course.
Jenny lives in Frome and can visit families within Somerset and neighbouring counties, plus work with those further afield via telephone and video conferencing.
Karen Hodes has worked as a Chartered Educational Psychologist in the public sector since 2005. Karen acts as the specialist sleep practitioner for the local authority as well as focusing on children’s anxiety and emotional wellbeing. Often running training sessions for teachers, parents and professionals on developing healthy sleep, Karen also works with individuals from young children to teenagers to manage sleep issues.
Her specialisms and areas of expertise also include mindfulness, Cognitive Behavioural Approaches and managing specific challenges relating to autism.
Karen lives in North London and is happy to make visits in the London area, or work remotely
First of all, we clarify the level and type of support that is a good fit for your family. Then we’ll send you questionnaires and a sleep diary to fill in prior to the first appointment. This helps us to view patterns of sleep behaviour over time and to take a holistic view of your needs.
Babies (9 months plus) and children
Video consultation of up to 90 minutes
Assessment and consultation to clarify and make sense of the current behaviours around sleep and jointly problem solve ways forward.
Babies (9 months plus) and children up to 12 years
Detailed assessment of needs
Video consultation of up to 90 minutes
Personalised sleep plan via email following consultation
Up to five contact sessions for a period of up to six weeks
Unlimited email support
Initial assessment to ascertain the nature of the insomnia
Variety of approaches, may include CBTi, ACT and mindfulness techniques
Further detailed information and pricing is available on request
Parent Led Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) Programme
Aimed at understanding and addressing sleep related anxiety
Detailed assessment of need
6-8 week intervention
Book & handouts to support the Zoom sessions
All locations covered
Further detailed information is available on request
If needed, further telephone support can be booked within 6 months of any of our packages. This is charged at £150 for 60-90 minutes. One off consultations can also be booked at this price.
Online consultation of up to 90 minutes. Two follow-up emails within a 4-week period.
This package is helpful for children of all ages, who are experiencing shorter-term difficulties that can be more easily resolved. It can also be for general support and advice about children's sleep.
HappySleepers also offers a range of workshops and training sessions for client groups, including:
Healthy sleep training for schools (parents, teachers and pupils)
Training for different professionals, including educational and clinical psychologists
Parent workshops (expectant parents, parents of children with additional needs)
Our daughter India was 8 when we reached out to HappySleepers. We were at a very low point and India was suffering with severe anxiety at bedtime and also during the night. We thought that there was no way forward and were all incredibly low, through trying to figure out how to cope. I reached out to Jenny and within a day she had contacted me and within 2 days we had our first call. I immediately felt reassured that there was a way forward and that India's anxiety could be supported. Jenny and HappySleepers created a support network for our family that has ended with our daughter now a confident and happy sleeper! The anxiety has gone, we have got our evenings and night-times back and our entire family is functioning in a way we never thought possible. I have nothing but praise for Jenny & HappySleepers and every night i remind myself of how far we've come!
We were having a pretty tough time with the dual issues of trying to teach our 7 year old son who couldn't go to sleep on his own or sleep through the night. We feared that as he didn’t have these skills by the age of 7, he was going struggle throughout life with sleep issues, and so we were very despondent about it all.
We just couldn’t possibly expect the results that were achieved from working with Jenny from HappySleepers over the course of a few months. We have just finished our programme with HappySleepers and our son now goes to sleep by himself and sleeps peacefully through the night. We are delighted beyond words and couldn’t recommend their service enough
It took us a while to contact Jenny and we wish we had done it sooner. We kept thinking we could sort out our son’s night awakenings and his constant need for us to sit with him while he fell asleep at night. The night time routine was starting to take its toll and none of us were getting enough sleep or an evening to ourselves. The problem was not only getting our 2.5 year old off to sleep but he would also wake twice during the night and would not settle himself unless we stayed with him. Jenny presented us with some options and after doing some preparation around his bedtime routine we felt confident in changing our son’s sleep habits. We were amazed that it did not take nearly as long as we feared for our son to sleep through the night once again. Jenny is professional and easy to talk to and we never felt our parental style was being judged, only that we were all working as part of the same team to achieve our goals. Jenny was very supportive and followed up, making sure we were happy every step of the way. The result – a much happier and rested household.
Being introduced to HappySleepers and Jenny was life changing. I had battled 3.5 years of sleep deprivation and my husband and I were constantly shattered, with a wilful older toddler who didn’t want to go to bed, didn’t know how to go to sleep without our presence and couldn’t stay asleep in her own bedroom. We also had an 18 month old who was beginning to go down the same route. We went through two different programmes with Jenny for each of our children, and this year’s Christmas presents to ourselves was getting our bedroom back, our sleep and reclaiming our lives. We now have 2 children who not only want to go to bed but routinely go to sleep without our help - and stay in bed until 7am! It is incredible. Jenny is incredible. We couldn’t have done this without her and my husband and I are eternally grateful. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Jenny – I had a mountain of sleep training books by my bedside, none of them beat having your own bespoke programme, tailored not only to your individual child but your own way of parenting and lifestyle. I used to dread bedtimes, and it used to take hours to get both children down. I now look forward to it immensely, its precious time with each of them separately, and my husband and I have our evenings to ourselves, for the first time in over 4 years. (It’s even made me think of having a third… but I would hire Jenny much sooner this time!)
It’s been nearly a month since we had our consultation with Jenny so I just wanted to follow up and say a huge thank you. When we spoke Reuben was getting up every night and the household was exhausted playing musical beds. I’m delighted to say that, by implementing the changes you suggested, Reuben is now sleeping through the night and staying in his own bed until morning. A few weeks ago we wouldn’t have believed this possible. Given the current situation with all schools and nurseries closed, we are more pleased than ever that we can all get a full night’s sleep
I found the HappySleepers at 4am one bleak night/morning.. after waking up with my 7 year old son for the 5th time that night and I knew enough was enough and we needed to take action. Archie was too scared to be in a room on his own in the day so bedtime was a challenge! We would need to lie with him or hold his hand until he fell asleep and do the same at every wake up through the night. When that’s on average 5 x a night cue a very grumpy household. Archie’s behaviour in the day was dreadful because he was so tired..my behaviour in the day was dreadful because I was so tired..it wasn’t pretty! After reading the testimonials on the HappySleepers website I thought maybe, just maybe this could work for us. Well....what a wonder Jenny is! After a 6 week intervention Archie sleeps like a dream, is brave and goes to bed on his own and is happy to be in rooms on his own. During the process I visualised writing this testimonial and it kept me going. This is the best money I have ever spent – we have gone from a grouchy, tired, snappy family to a well rested, happy family. Anyone reading this at 4am..just send an email you wont regret it!
“I feel great, thanks for helping me sleep Jenny.”
Karen changed our lives! We went from being up two to three times in the night, often for many hours at a time, to having the kids sleep for 11 hours solid. We have two young children, and when our youngest was 10 months old we were still sleeping as little as when she was a newborn. Our baby would wake multiple times each night and the only way we could settle her was breastfeeding her to sleep. I had no daytime nap routine and it felt like the baby was always unhappy and unsettled. Our two year old was also very difficult at bedtimes, needing me to sit with her for 45 minutes to get her to sleep, and then waking up in the night and refusing to go back to bed. Karen helped me take control of the situation by working together with me and my husband, using gentle techniques that I felt comfortable with.
It took a number of weeks and lots of patience and focus, but Karen guided us through every stage and gave me the confidence to believe that it would work if we stuck to the plan. Some of the techniques were ideas that I thought I had a sense of already and initially I wasn’t sure that the process would make a difference, as it felt like I’d tried lots of things already, but implementing Karen’s various strategies worked wonders. Karen came round for an initial consultation and followed up with weekly detailed phone conversations. By tailoring various techniques to our specific issues the kids gradually changed their patterns of behaviour. There was none of the stress and upset that you would experience with controlled crying, and as a result our family is happier all round!
We came to HappySleepers after we had got ourselves into a rut with our daughter’s sleep habits, with her waking 3-6 times a night and trying every technique known to man to get her back to sleep. It was not uncommon to be functioning on 4 hours of broken sleep a night and we had been doing this for 9 months. Whilst we had both read a great deal on different sleep techniques, none of it had worked for us and we really wanted an evidence-based sleep solution that we were happy using.
We found Jenny to be incredibly approachable and understanding in what is quite an emotionally demanding exercise. She adapted her advice to what we were comfortable implementing, and took the time to understand how we worked as a family. She set realistic goals and set the plan in phased steps so that we felt confident to help our daughter sleep.
Our daughter went from being a light and fractious sleeper who would only nap in her pram, which had to be moving, and waking several times a night, to being a confident sleeper in her cot, who is happily able to settle to sleep.
To say that this has transformed our lives would be an understatement! We no longer have to trudge the streets in every weather, and are able to sleep at night. Most importantly, Isobel is a well-rested, happy little girl, who is always on the go and full of curiosity and joy – and we can enjoy her all the more!
I highly recommend her!
I attended one of Karen’s talks (Sleep - why is matters and how teenagers can get enough) during a conference at Birmingham University. I found the talk extremely informative, highlighting differences between adolescents and adults and then suggesting teaching techniques to educate young people around sleep, including how to overcome sleep issues related to anxiety. Karen’s enthusiasm, confidence and knowledge of the subject projected through the presentation. As a young person myself, the talk explained some issues I had and the psychology behind why I had them, which, helped me to understand the importance of mindfulness.
At the beginning of the consultation period there were so many problems with M’s sleep, I couldn’t believe we were going to overcome them all – but in just over six weeks we have night weaned, and got M sleeping in her cot for all naps and all night, and all has been achieved with hardly any crying. I can now pop M down, say ‘sleepytime’, leave the room and close the door – and she goes to sleep! I’m astonished at the progress we’ve made and so grateful for Jenny’s patience, wisdom, encouragement and kindness. Her advice has been spot on and she was able to make me see exactly how M was capable of developing sleep skills even when I didn’t believe it.
Click the questions below to reveal the answers to some common questions on sleep behaviour:
A good sleep routine is the foundation for healthy sleep habits. It’s never too late to establish a positive bedtime routine, and there are long term benefits for doing so. Timing is the first area to think about, with a routine ideally lasting up to 45 minutes. When to start the routine can be based on working towards morning wake up time, and getting the required hours of sleep before this.
When thinking about the content of the routine, remember that the main aim at bedtime is to bring your child down from an alert, awake state by activating the calming brain chemical oxytocin and the sleep hormone melatonin. As a parent, you can help your child to regulate his brain chemistry in a way that prepares him for sleep.
At HappySleepers, we have lots of helpful tips on how to achieve this by establishing a soothing routine. For example, it is important to stay calm, as a gentle, quiet voice helps the child down from an aroused state. A short, warm bath works well, particularly as the drop in body temperature after the bath encourages production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Snuggling up and reading a story can also be helpful as body contact with your child will activate oxytocin in his brain, making him feel sleepy and listening to the story will engage your child’s frontal lobes, the part that naturally inhibits motor impulses — such as the desire to jump about on the bed!
Our psychologists at HappySleepers will work with you to tailor a bedtime routine to meet the individual needs of your child and fit in with your family life. A consultation may include looking at routine across the course of the day, sleeping arrangements, the bedtime environment, the needs of siblings, motivation and ways of supporting your child’s understanding of the routine through the use of visuals and stories.
If you feel that your child is not getting enough quality sleep or that your child's sleep is impacting on family functioning, start by gathering some concrete information about their sleep patterns. Keep a sleep diary and observe how the bedtime routines are working. It is also helpful to take a step back to think about your own thoughts and feelings and the impact of your child's sleep on family systems. Where concerns arise, start with your GP or paediatrician for advice so as not to overlook any physiological paediatric issues, including breathing and movement related sleep disorders. These are often undiagnosed and resolving an underlying physical cause can make a big difference to the quality and duration of sleep.
Sleep problems in childhood are common, with the highest rates reported in infancy, but continuing into later childhood and in some cases into adolescence. Our work covers a range of sleep difficulties, and these vary in severity and complexity. Common sleep difficulties include difficulty going to sleep or maintaining sleep throughout the night, frequent night waking, waking up early, and a range of sleep disturbances, including sleep-walking and night-terrors. We are also very versed in other sleep disorders and can support you in seeking the appropriate medical professionals where outside expertise and assessment may be helpful.
Many families who come to us have read lots about children’s sleep and tried different solutions. Most feel exhausted, are aware of the impact that it is having on their child and family dynamics. They want some professional guidance and support to enable them to overcome these difficulties — and get some much-needed rest for all the family.
We look holistically at your situation, gathering information about your child, the family, the environment and the sleep situation and tailoring a plan to the needs of your individual family. Our approaches are supported by a growing body of research into effective interventions for addressing sleep problems and we always put the child at the centre of any approach.
We work with a broad range of ages and needs at HappySleepers and don’t adopt any one particular approach. Our work with under 5’s and primary school aged children tends to be parent led. When addressing sleep difficulties in adolescence, we tend to also work with the young person directly.
We establish an understanding of sleep patterns, the likely reasons for these being maintained and then discuss the options in terms of ways forward. We suggest strategies that help promote a positive attachment between parent and child, such as being attentive and responsive to the child’s cues, adapting the environment and using strategies to reduce anxiety and provide reassurance, help to develop bedtime routines that feel calm, safe and predictable, helping to regulate a child’s brain chemistry in a way that prepares them for sleep.
It is common and perfectly normal for children to have nightmares, as a result of advancing cognitive skills and powers of imagination.
A helpful parental response is to respond to and soothe your child after a nightmare, while also continuing to help them feel comfortable in their room and secure in the process of settling to sleep.
If your child is afraid after a nightmare, make sure you respond straight away and comfort them. Remind your child of where they are and that everything is ok. Don’t initiate a discussion about the dream during the night.
From around two years of age, find a time when they are relaxed during the day and ask some simple questions about the worries they may have. Acknowledge how they are feeling and be curious about it. Don’t tell your child they are being silly or that there is nothing to be afraid of. Let your child know that you are listening and acknowledge their feelings.
Consider issues such as whether anything in their bedroom might appear to be frightening and what are they watching on the TV during the daytime (under the age of 4/5 years children find it hard to tell the difference between dreams and reality so they will need lots of reassurance).
There are lots of helpful techniques for empowering your child to overcome any anxieties and to feel better after a bad dream. HappySleepers also offer packages to support anxiety related sleep difficulties, using cognitive behavioural approaches. Please get in touch for further details.
We cannot guarantee a ‘perfect sleeper’ but aim to work with you to bring about positive change in your child’s sleep. Success outcomes vary from family to family and every situation and child are different. We work with you to set goals and together formulate a plan toward these. Families that show full commitment, perseverance and consistency to a sleep programme see the best results.
Our work with under 5’s is very much parent led. We indirectly gather information about your child’s developmental stage, personality, interests and preferences. This enables us to adopt a child centred and personalised approach. We do not need to work with your child but always enjoy meeting any little ones during our calls.
In supporting families with primary school aged children (4-11 years), we again get to understand individual children thought indirect information gathered. We often have contact with the child, for example through letter writing. Whether or not we meet your child directly, depends on the level of support taken up and the individual needs of child and family. The work to bring out change is largely parent-led, in line with evidenced based methods. Approaches ensure that children are supported to understand and be involved in any changes.
Our work with adolescents usually involves some sessions with both parent/s and young person. Support packages are individualised according to need.