Sleep Scotland was founded in 1998 by Jane Ansell, after her own experience as the parent of a child with complex needs and sleep problems made her aware of the lack of support for families in the same situation. In 1998, Sleep Scotland received funding for one year from the National Lottery Charities Board (NLCB) to investigate whether there was a need for a service dedicated to helping families with children who had additional support needs and severe sleep problems.

By the end of the year, sufficient evidence had been gathered that this need existed, and so, in 1999, the NLCB provided Sleep Scotland with funding for a further three-year project. This project aimed to train and support sleep counsellors, establish sleep clinics, and set up a telephone helpline for parents and professionals. It also aimed to help parents through new and existing support groups, and to raise the profile of families who have children with additional support needs and severe sleep problems among the public and professionals.

In 2005, Jane went on to launch TEENS+ a four-year transitional education programme for young people aged 17 to 24 with complex support needs and severe communication problems, who have left school.

In 2010, the first round of students from TEENS+ graduated, and LIFE+ was initiated. This is an education and training programme for people with complex additional support needs and severe communication problems, which offers the opportunity to try work placements and continue life-long learning.

In 2011, Sleep Scotland pioneered Sound Sleep, a project aimed at raising awareness in mainstream secondary schools of the importance of sleep for emotional and physical wellbeing. Designed for education professionals throughout the UK, Sound Sleep incorporates an ongoing series of training days and a training pack to allow professionals to implement sleep lessons in schools. In 2018, this was extended to primary schools.

In 2017, Sleep Scotland launched a Sleep Support Line. The line gives all families living in Scotland access to free support from Sleep Scotland’s experienced sleep counsellors, not only those with additional support needs. Parents, carers, and teenagers themselves will be able to seek tailored advice on sleep, from sleepless toddlers to teenagers dealing with exam-stress and the distractions of social media.