Sleep is one of the most important parts of wellness, especially for youth. We talked to Marcia East, Trauma Practitioner, and Camiel Friend, Nexus Program Supervisor, about the ways that YESS provides safe spaces and resources that meet this important need for sleep.
Why is sleep so important for youth who access YESS?
Marcia: Sleep helps to fuel our brain and our body. Youth need more sleep because their bodies and minds are growing quickly. Scientific research shows that many of our youth do not get enough sleep. To be at our best, it is recommended that we get between 8 and 10 hours of sleep every day.
In deep REM sleep, our serotonin levels are renewed, which protects us against depression, and our cells have the opportunity to repair themselves. Sleep is like giving our body fuel. Sleep allows us to integrate short term memory into long term memory, aiding in learning and synaptic strengthening, making information more salient in the brain.
How do YESS programs create healthy sleeping environments?
Camiel: The Nexus Overnight Shelter offers sleep support in a few different ways. The most obvious way is the beds, clean bedding, and availability of safe space to sleep! Some youth have different barriers to sleep. This can be trauma, mental health, addictions, insomnia—a variety of reasons that it may be a struggle. We accommodate each individual’s needs on an individual basis. We have space for youth to self-regulate as well as trained youth workers there overnight to support as needed. We manage the program with safety always the main objective. It is important to offer a safe space for youth to sleep for many reasons. Sleep is something our bodies need in order to survive. Offering a safe space through the nighttime hours is imperative to youth in high-risk lifestyles. This is the most vulnerable time in someone’s day and can sometimes be the most difficult. Shelter at nighttime means a safe night.
Marcia: We only drift into deep, restorative sleep when we are feeling safe. When we are feeling unsafe our brain causes us to remain semi-alert for self-protection. Over a period of time, this can lead to psychological problems, such as distortion of reality. Unfortunately, many individuals, including youth, experience deprivation of sleep.
It is important that we provide the kind of environment for youth which facilitates deep sleep, as it regenerates the whole body, allowing us to operate at our best capacity.