Centre Profile

Yarning about the health benefits of sleep program

30 April 2024

A project aimed at enhancing sleep health equity among First Nations adolescents in Mount Isa was the focus of a community symposium held in March.

More than 120 people from various sectors including government, industry, research and local organisations gathered to discuss the Let’s Yarn About Sleep program.  

Life Course Centre Associate Investigator and project lead Associate Professor Yaqoot Fatima said the event was critical for reviewing the program, engaging with community members and discussing research outcomes.

“This program has delivered positive results with adolescent participants in Mount Isa,” Dr Fatima said.

“After learning about sleep and how to enhance it over the 10-week course, they’ve improved their sleep/wake times as well as the regularity of their sleep, which has led to an average of 20 minutes more sleep each night.”

According to Dr Fatima First Nations adolescents experience disproportionately higher rates of poor sleep – up to twice as high as other young people – which can affect health and wellbeing.

The Let’s Yarn about Sleep is an Australian first program which aims to improve sleep health in regional First Nations communities by integrating sleep science research and traditional knowledge to co-design and tailor sustainable sleep health programs and services.

“At the Mount Isa community event, attendees and researchers engaged in insightful discussions led by Kalkadoon Elders, program participants and their families and carers,” Dr Fatima said.

“These conversations offered valuable perspectives on the successes of our sleep health promotion program and provided constructive feedback for future delivery in other communities.

“A primary theme that emerged was the pivotal role of community ownership in the program’s success.”

The program work will be continued in the Sleep for Strong Souls project which is being rolled out in six more Queensland communities.