Introducing HappySleepers...

HappySleepers are a team of chartered child psychologists offering expert help and advice on sleep from newborns to teenagers. Our work is based on the latest research in children's sleep and psychological theory, including effective assessment and interventions to change behaviours. We're all parents in the team, so we fully understand the emotional and physical challenges you may be facing, and we know that it’s essential that the methods we choose are right for you and your family

What we do

We're able to help wherever you are in the UK. We work in person, on the phone or over the internet to establish an approach that best complements your parenting philosophy.

HappySleepers use many approaches to deal with sleep issues, including gentle techniques. We use 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 take a holistic view of your child's sleep needs, considering aspects such as behaviour, anxiety and attachment. We can also help children with special educational needs.

It's always possible to make some positive changes and give all the family some much-needed rest.

Who we are

HappySleepers is a run by a Senior Educational Psychologist and provides a specialist team of experienced child psychologists, including educational and clinical psychologists. We are all skilled in providing a psychological service to support children and families in the area of sleep and have attended a range of specialist training courses. We’re members of the British Sleep Society, the International Association for Sleep Consultants, the British Psychological Society and the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC Registered).

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Karen Hodes

Karen Hodes

I live in North London with my husband and three children. With my first two children, I went through several challenging years of sleep deprivation because of difficulties breast feeding, undiagnosed reflux and dairy allergies, and my experiences led to my interest in sleep and managing sleep problems.

As an educational psychologist and sleep consultant, my interests include: managing food-related issues (which may be closely linked to sleep difficulties) and cognitive behavioural techniques (in particular children’s anxiety around other children and adults). I have trained parents on sleep-related and behavioural topics, such as ‘managing your child’s fears and worries’ and ‘managing your child’s behaviour’. I’m based in North Finchley and happy to make visits in the north London area.

Jenny Stephenson

Jenny Stephenson

I am a mother of two living in Hackney, London. From my own experiences of raising children and through working closely with families, I understand the difficulties that children's sleep problems can bring and how, with the right approach and support, a very difficult scenario can be turned around with positive changes for the whole family.

My professional background with children includes over 10 years as an educational psychologist in inner London authorities. My specialist interest is childhood sleep and sleep management. I have developed my skills and expertise in this area through a variety of courses and workshops, including in-depth training run by Southampton Children’s Sleep Disorder Service and Sleep Scotland. I find my sleep work with families hugely rewarding and I’m always keen to help where I can. I am happy to visit families in East, Central and North London.

Rachel Master

Rachel Master

I live in Hackney with my husband and 2 small children. Having been someone who very much took good sleep for granted, I felt completely overwhelmed when my daughter had reflux and associated sleep difficulties in her first few months. This certainly sparked my growing interest in sleep and I learnt, when my son came along (and was faced again with another challenging few months due to tongue tie combined with a clingy and head strong toddler!), that there was a limit to what could be learnt from pouring through every sleep book I could find, that a more individualised approach to understanding and treating sleep difficulties within complex family dynamics is what is often needed.

As a Clinical Psychologist I quickly learnt that sleep difficulties play a significant role in contributing to or maintaining many of the presenting problems I work with (from feeding, anxiety, family conflict, separation difficulties, attachment and attention/hyperactivity). I am confident in delivering individualised evidence based treatment plans drawing from a range of therapeutic models. I have further extended my training to include specialist sleep work and find this area of work hugely rewarding. It is amazing how significantly families can improve their overall well-being by focusing on a good nights sleep!

Our services

First of all, we discuss your individual needs over email or a phone call to work out what’s best for your family. Then we’ll send you a detailed questionnaire and sleep diary to fill in. That helps us to analyse patterns of sleep behaviour over time and to take a holistic view of your needs.

Packages & Prices

Home consultation sleep package — £380

Home consultation of up to 60 minutes.

Personalised sleep plan via email following consultation

Up to a total of six contact sessions (telephone calls or email) for a period of up to six weeks

Telephone consultation sleep package — £350

Telephone consultation of up to 60 minutes.

Personalised sleep plan via email following consultation.

Up to a total of six contact sessions (telephone or email if you prefer) for a period of up to six weeks.

This package is a good option for longer-distance clients

Young baby consultation — £165

One telephone or Skype consultation of up to 60 minutes. Two follow-up emails within a 4-week period.

This package is helpful for younger infants of up to 4 months. As with all our work, an emphasis on encouraging a positive attachment with your baby is embedded in our discussions. We help you to establish good foundations for your baby's sleep, including flexible feeding and sleeping routines, effective soothing techniques, establishing bedtime routines and how to move gently in the right direction.

Telephone consultation — £165

One telephone or Skype consultation of up to 60 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, such as reshaping sleep behaviours. It can also be for general support and advice about children's sleep. If difficulties are identified as longer term, we may suggest an alternative package

Top-up consultations

If needed, further telephone support can be booked within 6 months of any of our packages. This is charged at £60 for 30 minutes.

Siblings / returning clients

Parents who have previously used HappySleepers for another sibling are entitled to a discounted rate for the home and telephone consultation package. Please contact us for more details.

Groups and Training

HappySleepers also offer a range of workshops and training sessions, for different groups of clients. These include sleep workshops for expectant parents and carers, families of children with special educational needs and schools

We are always happy to provide more details about our services.

Send us an email
info@happysleepers.co.uk

Pick up the phone
07864 750 184

What our clients say about us

Since using HappySleepers on a personal basis for advice when my little boy was small (he’s been sleeping through the night since he was 3 months old), I don’t hesitate to recommend them professionally too. I’ve sent numerous clients to them, and they all come back remarking on how personal, kind, accessible and gentle the contact they have with HappySleepers is. In an age where there is so much information available, how do mother’s weed out the right kind or advice? How do they know whom they can trust to get results? How can they be sure they are accessing a service they will feel confident and comfortable with – instead of just being guided to a one-size fits all method? I have found that HappySleepers sets my mind at rest on all these levels

Naava Carmen, Fertility Support Company

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!)

DD, Hackney

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.

CD, Hackney

NS, Kent

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.

NS, Kent

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!

TW, Finchley

Contacting HappySleepers and speaking to Liz was the best thing we did!! After 14 months of very little sleep, bed sharing & finger sucking to soothe we were desperate to get our lives back & I was starting to feel very low with a very unhappy baby too & a toddler to look after too. We thought we had tried most things & felt we were at a dead end until I contacted HappySleepers. I was sceptical at first as we didn't have any of issues with our first child & I suppose couldn't understand why our second was so difficult to get into a routine & to get any sleep. Liz was very patient, understanding & supportive. The home visit & weekly phone calls helped to keep us on track & motivated. The good thing is because it is tailored to your family things can be changed so it works!! With a new routine & gradually changing things at night we are now getting full night sleep & a good sleep during the day!! We all know where we are now & have a baby that can self-soothe so a happier home!!

SH, Watford

Frequently asked questions

Click the questions below to reveal the answers to some common questions on sleep behaviour:

  • What is a good bedtime routine and how can I help to prepare my child for sleep?
    • 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 read 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, reward systems and way of supporting your child’s understanding of the routine through the use of visuals and stories.

  • How do I know if my child has a sleep problem?
    • The answer to whether or not your child has a sleep problem is down to you and your family. Is it a problem for you? The chances are that if you're here, then it probably is. Wait a week or so if you want to see if things improve, or you’re welcome to give us a call now

      Sleep problems in childhood are common, with the highest rates reported in infancy (eg. 36% in children aged 7–12 months, 28% in children aged 2–3 years*), 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 also support expectant parents and those with younger infants, in areas such as building up a strong attachment with your baby, safe sleeping, developing a flexible feeding and sleeping routine and a sleep-friendly environment and how to move gently in the right direction with your baby’s sleep.

      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.

  • My child will only go to sleep if I rock or feed her to sleep — what can I do?
    • The first reassuring news is that you are not alone! At HappySleepers, we work with many families who are in this situation. We understand why and how this pattern of behaviour arises and we really do empathise with the need to get more sleep.

      Your child has to learn to associate the onset of sleep with certain conditions, which may involve high levels of physical contact. Your little one may settle well under these conditions at bedtime, but find it hard to self-soothe following natural night wakings. This tends to result in repeated night wakings, when you are called upon to recreate the same conditions as when your child first went to bed.

      The second piece of good news is that behavioural interventions work, as reported in research studies, in addition to outcomes for our families at HappySleepers. We are well versed and flexible in the different interventions that can be used to shape these sleep behaviours, and carry out a careful assessment of your family, supporting you to decide on the right approach.

  • How do I manage my child's anxiety around their nightmares?
    • 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.

  • For the past few months our child (18 months) has been waking up around 5.30am. We have tried putting him down at bit later and resettling him when he wakes up, but nothing has worked. We are exhausted, what else can we try?
    • Early rising can be a complex issue and parents often find this one of the more difficult sleep problems to change. It is a particularly exhausting one to manage as a family. It may occur without any other sleep related issues, or as part of a range of sleep difficulties.

      At HappySleepers, we work with you to understand whether or not this early wake up is a reasonable and developmentally appropriate time for your child. Where a child is waking up refreshed, ready to start his day and coping well throughout the day (i.e. a child who needs less sleep), we look at management strategies and routines for the family.

      For other children early rising can be caused by a range of factors including hunger, excessive daytime naps, daytime nap deprivation, positive reinforcement for waking (eg. being taken into a parent’s bed for an early cuddle or snooze) or environmental factors. We support you to make sense of your child’s early waking and to plan a way of managing this as a family.

  • I am about to wean my child. My friend has just weaned her baby but he is not sleeping or eating well and I am sure the two are linked... he is also a very fussy eater. How can I help my child to eat well?
    • There is a key time for children to accept certain foods, and if they are introduced after this time period, it can be harder to get them to like and eat them.

      When you are starting to wean your child, introduce lots of fruit and vegetables early on and ideally prepare them yourself as much as you are able to. Give them a variety of fruit and vegetables together as this helps a child to get used to and accept a range of tastes.

      Don’t force your child to eat if they are fussy. Feeling anxious about their eating is normal but be aware of your behaviour and how any anxiety that you have is affecting them during mealtimes as this is likely to make them more resistant to eating. If they are very fussy, try using adults, peers, cartoon characters and media stars as role models when eating. Parents model eating the same type of food is a powerful way to influence children.

      If you are trying to introduce your children to new foods and they resist, try them in small portions, in a relaxed way, away from mealtimes.

  • My child is anxious about going to bed without me at night. She is also anxious in general when it gets to bedtime. What can I do to help her?
    • Anxiety is a normal part of development for all children. For those children who are particularly anxious or who are going through a phase of being anxious at bedtime, there are often a few key reasons for their anxiety: they are worried about being apart from a loved one (separation anxiety); they are concerned about the dark; they are generally worried about a number of areas in their life.

      If your child is able to understand and use some basic language, the first thing you need to do is find out what your child is worried about when they are relaxed during the daytime. All children need to know that they have some control over their worries.

      With younger children, consider how you are separating from them during the daytime and plan how you can leave something of yourself with them at bed-time and during the night. For example, leave something which smells of you or a comforter. Consider your child’s bedroom environment and whether they are happy being there.

      For older children, it is helpful to make aware that there are alternative ways of thinking about their worries and problems, for example, changing unhelpful thoughts such as "I can’t be alone", to helpful thoughts like "I will be able to manage to be on my own". You can jointly come up with a written plan with small, manageable, clear steps. It is also a good idea to talk about what you are going to do if problems occur with your plan.

      You can also use relaxation CDs to help children with their worries. If they have a number of worries, plan a set time each day to discuss them. HappySleepers can offer you further guidance in managing your child’s anxiety about bedtime and separation.

      • Armstrong, Quinn and Dadds (1994). The sleep patterns of normal children. The Medical Journal of Australia, 161. 202-205.

Get in touch
info@happysleepers.co.uk

Pick up the phone
07864 750 184

Follow us
@HappySleepersUK

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