“Life changing” Sheffield sleep programme helps 800 children

800 families with children who suffer from chronic sleep problems are being helped by a major new Sheffield programme developed by the Children’s NHS Foundation trust.

In partnership with The Sleep Charity and Sheffield City Council the scheme, which forms part of a long-term plan by the NHS, has been called “life-changing” by NHS England’s mental health chief.

As part of the programme Sheffield Children’s hospital has been trialing sleep classes for children with brain development disorders or those who have gone through trauma and struggle to sleep.

Those children have now gained an average of 2.4 hours more sleep every night and the time it takes them to fall asleep has fallen by a half.

The scheme has also helped the whole family. Parents reporting illnesses like anxiety and depression has fallen by 16% from more than two-thirds to 51%.

Professor Heather Elphick, a consultant in paediatric sleep medicine at the Foundation, was one of the leading figures behind the scheme.

Her advice to improve a child’s quality of sleep includes:

  • Avoid screens an hour before bedtime and instead plan a relaxed routine including activities such as jigsaws and colouring
  • Make your child’s bedroom calm and comfortable
  • Don’t drink caffeine-based products and energy drinks from noon onwards

Professor Elphick said of the programme’s impact: “This project has made life better for children, young people and their families across the city with a positive impact not just in the amount of sleep gained but in the wellbeing and quality of life for the whole family.”

“The programme also reduces the need for a patient to receive medication and intensive medical treatment. A good night’s sleep is more than just a nice-to-have, and is actually a significant boost to health and wellbeing, particularly young people with ADHD and mental health,” she added.