Supporting sleep in early care and education: An assessment of observed sleep-times using a sleep practices optimality index

Staton, Sally, Marriott, Annette, Pattinson, Cassandra, Smith, Simon, & Thorpe, Karen (2016) Supporting sleep in early care and education: An assessment of observed sleep-times using a sleep practices optimality index. Sleep Health, 2(1), pp. 30-34.

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  • The aim was to investigate whether the sleep practices in early childhood education (ECE) settings align with current evidence on optimal practice to support sleep.


  • Internationally, scheduled sleep times are a common feature of daily schedules in ECE settings, yet little is known about the degree to which care practices in these settings align with the evidence regarding appropriate support of sleep.


  • Observations were conducted in 130 Australian ECE rooms attended by preschool children (Mean = 4.9 years). Of these rooms, 118 had daily scheduled sleep times. Observed practices were scored against an optimality index, the Sleep Environment and Practices Optimality Score, developed with reference to current evidence regarding sleep scheduling, routines, environmental stimuli, and emotional climate. Cluster analysis was applied to identify patterns and prevalence of care practices in the sleep time.


  • Three sleep practices types were identified. Supportive rooms (36%) engaged in practices that maintained regular schedules, promoted routine, reduced environmental stimulation, and maintained positive emotional climate. The majority of ECE rooms (64%), although offering opportunity for sleep, did not engage in supportive practices: Ambivalent rooms (45%) were emotionally positive but did not support sleep; Unsupportive rooms (19%) were both emotionally negative and unsupportive in their practices.


  • Although ECE rooms schedule sleep time, many do not adopt practices that are supportive of sleep. Our results underscore the need for education about sleep supporting practice and research to ascertain the impact of sleep practices in ECE settings on children’s sleep health and broader well-being.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 92550
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: Special Issue: Sleep Health in Early Care and Education
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Napping, Environment, Practices, Early childhood, Education, Childcare, Sleep
DOI: 10.1016/j.sleh.2015.12.005
ISSN: 2352-7226
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100) > Developmental Psychology and Ageing (170102)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety - Qld (CARRS-Q)
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 National Sleep Foundation
Deposited On: 05 Feb 2016 02:30
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2017 00:02

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