When a baby or child is not sleeping well at night, this usually means that the parents are not sleeping well. Sleep deprivation can affect parenting, relationships, wellbeing and health.
Parents often turn to early years practitioners and healthcare professionals for advice about sleep-related issues, especially when they and their child are experiencing problems. However, in a recent survey of early years professionals only 31% had received any training related to sleep. So, it’s clear that many professionals are poorly equipped to offer evidence based up-to-date knowledge, advice and information around children’s sleep.
To respond to this issue we have created the Sleep Game with Ruth Silverman, a qualified nurse, midwife and health visitor who has run many sleep clinics and supported families to get a good night sleep with their babies and children.
Members of staff at the Sheffield Children's NHS Foundation Trust tested the Sleep Game for us and shared their experience with us.
"They asked us to play ‘The Sleep Game’. We worked out that we had 44 years of sleep experience between us, surely this game would be over quickly and we would know all the answers? Instead this game brought up lots of discussion around paediatric sleep and what became apparent was that this game would be a great tool to teach and discuss sleep with other professionals who all need a little bit of sleep education in their lives!
The Sleep Game is based on the snakes and ladders concept and has two sets of questions; one set asks general questions around sleep, covering themes such as sleep disorders, sleep stages and why we sleep. Then there are also fun trivia questions on sleep such as naming pop songs with dreams in the title, or how many points would you score in scrabble for the word ‘sleep’. There are always 2 teams with multiple players on each team allowing the opportunity to discuss potential answers and dispel any sleep myths amongst the team members.
Most professionals undertake annual mandatory training in their continuous professional development. We thought that adding this game into training would really open up the discussion around sleep, especially when lead by someone with prior sleep knowledge to prompt and guide the groups. People are genuinely interested in the topic of sleep, because it is something that we all do (and often wish we could do more of). Practical learning such as that offered by the sleep game also means that you are more likely to pay attention and remain awake!"