Sleep Well: Improving sleep to reduce young people’s psychosis risk

What is the opportunity?

We have recruited 5 young people aged 14-25 with sleep problems who deal with unusual or psychotic experiences (this could include paranoia, unusual thoughts or hearing voices) to form a Lived Experience Advisory Panel (LEAP) that is advising on and shaping a research project looking at how improving sleep may help prevent psychosis in young people.

What is this study?

Researchers from Oxford University have developed a psychological treatment to improve sleep and help young people who are at very high risk of developing psychosis.

The sleep intervention has already been tested in a small study with 12 young people. You can read more about the research by clicking here. The results are promising and so a much larger study is planned to test if the sleep treatment really works. In order to do this, a trial is needed to develop the treatment further.

For this trial, forty young people, who are at the highest risk of developing psychosis, will be invited to take part in the study. Half of the group will receive the sleep treatment and the other half will continue with their usual treatment. Across 9 months the young people will then be measured for changes in sleep, psychotic experiences and wellbeing levels. At the end of the study, the young people will be interviewed about how they found the treatment. 

Why is this research important?

In the UK, there are an estimated 320,000 young people aged 15-24 at high risk of psychosis. NHS mental health services see those who are at the highest risk. Of these, around 20% will go on to develop psychosis within 12 months. The development of psychosis can have multiple, major consequences on psychological wellbeing, physical health, relationships, education, and employment. It is therefore important that we find ways to prevent psychosis in the first place. One factor that has been proven to cause psychosis is sleep problems, which is why this study is testing a new sleep treatment. 

How are McPin and people affected by mental health problems involved? 

The McPin Foundation are supporting service user involvement for the study by building and working with a Young People’s Lived Experience Advisory Panel (LEAP) of five young people. Members of the LEAP will meet 6 times over the course of the project with the researchers and McPin staff. They advise and shape the project and ensure that it is effective, appropriate and relevant to those with sleep problems and at high risk of psychosis. Some of the ways in which they will be involved include advising on recruitment methods, communicating findings, as well as designing and analysing qualitative interviews.

Where can I find more information?

To find out how to get involved in other projects for young people visit the Young People’s Network page.

The Sleep Well study is funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR).  

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