Young people are at particular risk of developing sleep issues yet there is very little support available to help them when they get into difficulties. Thanks to funding from The Paul Hamlyn Foundation, The Children’s Sleep Charity were able to take steps in highlighting the need for support during 2016/17

Teen Sleep Pilot

We invited schools from across the Yorkshire and Humber region to apply to take part in the pilot project. Five Secondary Schools were selected to take part in the ground breaking initiative to provide information and support for young people who are sleep deprived.  By increasing good quality sleep, the project aimed to improve young people’s health and wellbeing.

We extend warm thanks to the schools that took part in the project:

Winterhill School, Rotherham

Sirius Academy, Hull

Honley High School, Huddersfield

Allerton High, Leeds

Campsmount Academy, Doncaster

Vicki Dawson

Vicki Dawson, CEO of The Children's Sleep Charity said:

"The response we received from schools around the project was fantastic.  It is widely recognised by teaching staff, pupils and parents, that there is a need for sleep support so that teenagers can reach their full potential.  We know that sleep deprivation can impact on mental, physical and emotional health and can impair attainment.  Asking young people about the support they need and want is a vital step in addressing the issue and ensuring that we as a charity provide appropriate support."

Once schools had been identified, steering groups of professionals and students were developed to design material content and to understand how young people would prefer to access support. The overwhelming consensus was the need to “talk to someone” and for support not be focussed on social media.

Honley High

Honely High School told us:

"We are proud to have been chosen to take part in the teen sleep project. We strongly believe that a good night's sleep is the key to well-being, and this has been echoed through the work The Children's' Sleep Charity have already started to do with the pupils that have been chosen to participate in the project. The introduction session was fascinating for both the staff and pupils; the pupils are fully engaged in the process, and it was a real privilege to be able to listen to them telling their stories in a supportive and safe environment.  We look forward to seeing the impact this project will have on their sleep and ultimately their overall health and wellbeing"

With the knowledge that summer holiday can often play havoc with young people’s body clocks, support began in across the Autumn and Winter terms of 2016. Trained sleep practitioners from The Children’s Sleep Charity worked in partnership with schools delivering workshops and one to one clinics directly to students. One group of students did the maths and found that most of them were getting a minimum of 15 hours less sleep a week than they needed. This did not include weekend sleep. Some youngsters were suffering with more than 20 hours of sleep deprivation per week.

We were honoured that our work inspired students from Sirius Academy to write and perform their own dramatic piece about sleep deprivation from a young peron’s perspective, and the follow on interview words from Beth Hewitt, Head of House at Sirius talks about how daytime behaviour has improved for some.

"We were honoured that our work inspired students from Sirius Academy to write and perform their own dramatic piece about sleep deprivation from a young peron’s perspective, and the follow on interview words from Beth Hewitt, Head of House at Sirius talks about how daytime behaviour has improved for some."

A final presentation at one school led to over 30 families attending our presentation to enable them to better understand their child’s sleep. As part of the project we also designed a bespoke training workshop for professionals who support young people. The ‘Sleep Champion’ training of sleep support in school communities.

Rosemary Brooks, SENCO, Safeguarding Lead and Head of Year said of the training:

"What I have really enjoyed in not only understanding more about the science of sleep...I have also liked the fact there have been really practical and achievable strategies and tools that I think are useful for young people to use independently and with the support of their parents"

More references and resources

Vicki Dawson wrote for the Education and Health Journal about 'Supporting young people with sleep issues to meet their full potential' You can read the full article HERE The Journal, published by Schools and Students Health Education Unit, is aimed at those involved with education and health who are concerned with the health and wellbeing of young people.

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