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Indigenous sleep coach wants a score of 40 winks all

Karen Chong is the world's first Indigenous sleep coach.

"We are the people of the Dreamtime with the oldest continuing culture shaped by dreams, which is why I became a sleep coach and I want to train others," she said.

Any parent of teenagers will tell you the notoriously tricky adolescent brain can be even more difficult if they haven't had a good night's sleep.

Mother of seven and grandmother of ten Ms Chong, a Waanyi Garawa Gangalida woman, knows all too well how much harder parenting can be if your kids aren't sleeping properly.

"If they weren't having a proper night's sleep, they were waking up cranky and moody and it affects their eating too," she said.

"The biggest issue I've had with my two girls is that they want to stay up all night on their phones - if you're a parent you'll know what kids are like."

The University of Queensland and Beyond Blue have partnered to deliver culturally responsive sleep health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents in Queensland.

Project lead Associate Professor Yaqoot Fatima from UQ's Poche Centre for Indigenous Health said Indigenous teens experience up to twice the rates of poor sleep as other adolescents.

"Poor sleep can be caused by medical conditions like sleep apnoea and restless leg syndrome, or behavioural issues such as an irregular bedtime, late nights, and not getting enough sleep," she said.

"Indigenous adolescents sleep better when they feel connected to their culture, which is why this program is important."

The 10-week Sleep for Strong Souls program is holding workshops with more than a hundred 12-18-year-olds in north and western Queensland communities.

The program promotes and reinforces healthy sleep behaviours by integrating traditional and western knowledge and was successfully piloted in Mt Isa last year.

Ms Chong completed her training as an Indigenous sleep coach under the pilot program and is working towards becoming a sleep technician.

She said that there are things people can do to improve their sleep.

And number one is detaching from screens and devices well before bedtime.

"A good night's sleep can help prevent you from getting all these life-threatening illnesses, like diabetes, heart disease, and mental illnesses," Ms Chong said.

"It can affect you in so many different ways."

Melatonin is produced by the brain in darkness.

"It gets released in your brain to help you start relaxing and go to sleep but light coming from phones tricks the brain into thinking that it's daytime and then interferes with your circadian rhythms," Ms Chong said.

"A clean environment, comfortable bed and the room needs to be a nice temperature.

All devices should be put away, don't have too much caffeine at night and lights are a big thing.

"I turn my phone on silent and it goes under the bed."

Ms Chong is looking forward to working with Indigenous teenagers, including two of her grandchildren, in the Sleep for Strong Souls program.

"I can't wait to go out into the communities speak with the kids and really educate them about the science behind sleep and, obviously, it's done with cultural lessons as well," she said.

"I'm proud to do this, it's giving back to my community."