England: new NHS ‘sleep clinic’ boosts families’ wellbeing

05 June 2019

A pioneering pilot scheme to help children get a good night’s sleep has boosted the mental health of youngsters and their parents, NHS England has said.

Based at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, The Sheffield Children and Young People’s Sleeping Well Project gives parents one-to-one and over-the-phone sessions with sleep experts.

The scheme’s advice – some of whom sleep for only four to five hours per night – includes bedtime routines and techniques to help children to stay calm before bed.

The classes have been trialled for families of children with brain development disorders or who have gone through trauma.

The children who have benefitted are sleeping better (gaining an extra 2.4 hours sleep per night) and performing better at school.

As well as improving mental health, the measures had a significant impact on parents’ wellbeing, with the number of carers, mums and dads reporting illnesses such as headaches, depression and infections falling by 16%.

Professor Heather Elphick, who helped to develop the scheme, said that the positive impact was ‘not just in the amount of sleep gained, but in the wellbeing and quality of life for the whole family’.

Up to eight in 10 children with additional needs are thought to have sleep problems affecting their wellbeing.

Image credit | iStock