New study aims to help children with sleep disturbance and traumatic stress

The Flinders Sleep and Psychology Laboratory is conducting a research study investigating how a combined treatment can be used to help children who have experienced a traumatic event.

One in three children will experience a traumatic event, like a dog bite, car accident, or sudden loss of a loved one. Some of these children will develop signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); negative changes to their behaviour, intrusive thoughts, and avoidance of anything related to the trauma such as people, places, or activities.

Many children will also experience trouble sleeping after a traumatic event; maybe they can’t get to sleep, they can’t sleep alone, or they might not sleep through the night. If sleep problems aren’t addressed during treatment for PTSD, which they often aren’t, it makes recovery more difficult and symptoms more likely to reappear later in life.

A new study run by researchers at the Flinders University Sleep and Psychology Laboratory and funded by Flinders Foundation – the Child and Adolescent Treatment for Trauma and Sleep (CHATTS) program – aims to combine existing treatments for sleep disturbance and traumatic stress in children aged 5 -12 years who have experienced a traumatic event.

The CHATTS study involves 10 x hour-long sessions, during which parents and children will be given the tools to help the child sleep better and overcome the symptoms of PTSD. We hope that this study will improve our understanding of how to effectively treat sleep problems and traumatic stress for children, so they can go on to live their best lives!

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