Joy Bishop is the Lead Sleep Counsellor and Founder of Sleep East Community Interest Company. She has worked with families of children with special and educational needs (SEND) for over 20 years.
As a sleep counsellor for over 12 years I come across a large number of families with children who have special and educational needs (SEND) experiencing sleep deprivation. This lack of sleep added to their problems, yet very little was being done to specifically address their needs.
A sleep counselling service was desperately needed.
The British Sleep Foundation suggests that children with disabilities are:
- in the region of 85% likely to have long-term sleep problems
- everyone at some stage in their life will experience sleep difficulties
- many of the children Sleep East support have only slept for an average of three hours per night
- this can continue for many years
Improving sleep for the whole family has become our passion and driving force.
What does Sleep East do?
We provide sleep counselling services for families and the professionals who support them. We run Sleep Hives which explore the physiology of Sleep and Sleep Hygiene.
To understand this, we play ‘Sleep Bingo’. ‘Sleep Bingo’ helps:
- to talk about ‘sleep supporters’
- ‘sleep thieves’
- introduces the concept of ‘Sleep Detectives’
- provides a fun and interactive way to learn about practical sleep strategies
With the whole family in mind we examine:
- use of IT, and
- how to manage stress, anxiety and depression
As the whole range of family life impacts upon sleep, the discussions which arise in Sleep Hives cover a wide variety of parental concerns. Parents who are making changes to their children’s sleep patterns, using the techniques discussed in the ‘Hive’, are able to drop into our Library based sleep clinic sessions to discuss progress. Working with Norfolk Library and Information Service, we complement their ‘Bath, Book Bed’ project.
Face-to face Sleep Counselling
Face-to face Sleep Counselling is a vital service for those families whose children have deep-rooted sleep problems; we offer a home visit and an individually designed sleep programme using behaviour changing strategies to improve children’s sleep. We often begin by making recommendation to the daily routine before we tackle sleep. Helping families settle their child in bed as opposed to falling asleep on the sofa is just one of the skills we offer. We empower parents to:
- help their children self-settle
- sleep through the night, and
- tackle those early morning awakenings
Why a Community Interest Company (CIC)?
The flexibility of the CIC model suited us from the outset, it was important to identify ourselves with the philosophy behind Social Enterprises - not for profit but with a business mentality.
We look forward to running Sleep Hives throughout Norfolk and to expand our one to one sleep counselling service through funding from Health Commissioners. It would also be a delight, as a not for profit organisation to have to pay NO tax, so ALL of our profit went back into providing services.