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Helping young people to get a better night’s sleep

​An intervention designed to help young people overcome insomnia is to be rolled out by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) following a successful pilot.

The Better Sleep Programme is being offered to young people aged between 14 and 25 who are receiving treatment from NSFT’s Youth Teams, and comes in addition to any support they may be receiving for mental health difficulties.

The six-week course helps participants get a better understanding of their own sleep difficulties and the particular problems that might be interfering with their sleep. It goes on to offer strategies to help them get back into a more automatic cycle, such as strengthening the association between going to bed and going to sleep.

The course is being rolled out following a successful pilot last year. Feedback was very positive, while an evaluation showed that 80% of participants no longer met the threshold for insomnia after completing the sessions, including all of those who were aged under 18.

Dr Rebecca Rollinson, Principal Clinical Psychologist who has helped develop the programme, said: “Research shows that there are incredibly high levels of insomnia among this age group, who are also at a greater risk for the onset of ongoing mental health difficulties. When the two combine, it can be very powerful and have an impact on their ability to concentrate, their mood, energy levels, relationships and self-esteem.

“The aim of the Better Sleep Programme is to help young people to improve their sleep, which in turn can have a positive impact on their quality of life and mental health.

“The results of the pilot were very encouraging. The young people were really motivated to work on improving their sleep and tended to see quick improvements when they did make changes which had a knock-on effect in many other areas of their lives.

 “We are delighted that we have now recruited two assistant psychologists to help roll out the programme and embed the approach across Norfolk and Suffolk so that more young people who are accessing our services can benefit.

 “It has been challenging but incredibly rewarding to see through a consistent project of work like this alongside a busy clinical job. Our thanks go to all of the colleagues who have helped us to get this far, including the assistant psychologists who have informed and continually developed the programme.”