Most people know the importance of a good night’s sleep. For children and teens with mental health diagnoses, sleep becomes even more important and sometimes more challenging. Depression, mood disorders and other conditions can have negative impacts on sleep.
At The Barry Robinson Center (BRC), the residential staff work closely with treatment teams to help residents develop good sleep habits.
“Sleep problems can be a manifestation of our residents’ medical diagnoses,” said Janika Joyner, LCSW, clinical trainer at BRC. “Problems can also arise from trauma, which many of our residents have experienced. Sleep hygiene has become an integral part of our trauma-informed care and our restorative approach to building trusting relationships with residents.”
BRC established a sleep hygiene program early in 2018, which continues to evolve based on data and feedback from residents and staff. The policy is consistent with recommendations from the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA). Components including nursing assessment of sleep quality on admission and sleep charts for the first two weeks of stay to identify sleep problems early.
“We utilize sleep logs so that we do not rely solely on subjective reports,” said Dr. Abdul Mateen, BRC medical director. “We also offer appropriate follow up for residents with sleep complaints, and in a few cases, we’ve ordered sleep studies for residents.”
As BRC becomes more intentional about sleep hygiene, therapists regularly ask residents about their sleeping habits. Dorm staff also help residents develop and practice positive habits that include:
- Facilitating regular evening routines to prepare for sleep
- Cutting screen time in the hour or so before bedtime
- Encouraging reading and soft music
- Offering sleep aids such as eye masks
Because environment plays a big role in sleep, maintenance staff monitor and adjust temperature settings in the dorms. They are also evaluating common area lighting to find ways to lessen bright light during overnight hours. And dorm staff on overnight shifts talk quietly and avoid noisy activities.
Education is an integral part of the sleep hygiene program. Nurses help teach residents and staff about the importance of quality sleep and share relaxation skills to help them sleep better. One nurse manager is piloting a sleep hygiene group for adolescent girls that may be replicated in other dorms.
“It’s been a culture shift for us, to be intentional with staff training so our employees understand the science behind sleep and then become more engaged in helping our residents,” Joyner said.
Next steps for the program include parent education and more support for sleep hygiene among residents and staff.