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Psychology Elevator Pitch: How a better sleep pattern makes students mentally healthier

Do you often find yourself exhausted in the lecture hall or at your workplace? Not great for your mental well-being, as Laura Pape knows. She is investigating how an online self-help program can assist in addressing sleep issues and preventing mental health problems. Join her on this elevator pitch as she takes us through FSW!

We all stay up late sometimes after a great party, gaming night with friends, or an exciting TV series marathon. But those who consistently lack sufficient sleep are twice as likely to experience depression. Laura Pape, a PhD candidate in Clinical Psychology: 'Many students struggle with sleep deprivation. Research from the Trimbos Institute reveals that 41% of students have poor sleep quality, and 51% of them experience psychological issues such as anxiety and sadness. It's all interconnected.' This prompted her to investigate how students can develop a healthier sleep routine. Get to know Laura and her research in this video.

Laura Pape about her research

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Students with sleep deprivation

It's not surprising to see many students with tired eyes showing up in their study groups. 'Sleep isn't really a priority for a lot of students. When you start studying, you suddenly bear full responsibility for managing your life and health. Easier said than done, often. Balancing studying, part-time jobs, and parties tends to take precedence. Additionally, drug and alcohol use don't contribute to maintaining a regular sleep schedule. Moreover, many students live in noisy shared houses, which is hardly conducive to getting a good night's sleep.'

Caring Universities

To assist students in finding a healthier sleep routine, she, along with colleagues from Leiden University and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, developed an online sleep intervention called i-Sleep & BioClock. It is a five-week-long online self-help program based on principles from cognitive behavioral therapy. 'Students keep a sleep diary and gain access to exercises, information, and assignments. They also have weekly online sessions with a coach.'

The program can be found on the Caring Universities platform, a collaborative effort among universities and colleges offering free online services to enhance students' mental well-being.

Want to participate in the sleep study?

The second phase of the research will commence in November 2023. You can participate in the study if:

  • You are a Bachelor's, Master's, or PhD student at one of the partner universities of Caring Universities.
  • You experience sleep problems (such as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep).
  • You are willing to take part in a five-week-long online self-help program.

Interested? Read more about it here or sign up as a test subject. For further inquiries, you can contact us at isleep-bioclock@fsw.leidenuniv.nl.

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