Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

The SMILE study: Sleep Mood lntervention: Live Effectively a group intervention in students with sleep problems

Can SMILE, our multi-component intervention, which combines cognitive-behavioural therapy for insomnia, mindfulness, stress, and lifestyle components, improve sleep quality? Can it also improve mood and quality of life and prevent depression and anxiety in the long term?

Niki Antypa

It is well established that students suffer from a variety of sleep problems and are at an age group which has a high risk of developing psychological disorders. Sleep problems also precede full-blown manifestations of depression and anxiety disorders. To date, no single prevention protocol in students so far has integrated and addressed a range of problems (e.g. sleep, mood, lifestyle, stress).

We created a multi-component intervention which combines different therapeutic elements in order to improve the sleep quality and mood of students. The intervention includes four 2-hour sessions (in groups of 6 participants). During the sessions we target a range of issues including: sleep hygiene, negative thoughts, worrying, stress and arousal, relaxation techniques, as well as perfectionistic tendencies, time planning and burnout. The topics will be covered through group discussion and participants are encouraged to follow practical guidelines. The sessions end with a discussion and planning of how to maintain the changes obtained during the intervention, and how to prevent relapsing into old habits. All information shared in the group remains confidential.

The aim is to give students ‘a bag of psychological tools’ to improve their sleep habits, mood and quality of life.

The study design is a randomized-controlled trial, where participants are randomized to either the intervention group or to a waiting-list control group that receives the intervention at a later time point. 

The dates and times of the group sessions are not standard. They depend on the availability of the students/leader that form each group.

Our assessments include online questionnaires, but also ecological momentary assessments (mobile phone app questions that participants can answer in real time about their mood, energy levels, etc.) Participants will also wear a watch that measures activity and sleep quality before and after the intervention/waiting list.

Students can participate for free. Travel costs are reimbursed (up to 30 euros). 

If you are interested in participating please email smile@fsw.leidenuniv.nl for more information.

The research has been approved by the Medical Ethical Committee of Leiden University Medical Center, and is carried out in LUBEC (Leids Universitair Behandel- en Expertise Centrum).


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