Aim: This study was conducted on a sample of 644 pupils between the ages of five and ten years at school in the Orléans-Tours education authority with the aim of studying the nocturnal sleep duration and timetable of young children according to age and socio-economic environment.
Method: In order to find out about children's sleeping habits (duration, time of going to bed and getting up, and weekly variations) a standard grid was used to carry out a cross-sectional survey in the children's families. This was filled in each day from Monday to Sunday during the same school week for all the children.
Results: Sleep duration decreased with age from maternelle to CM2 (nursery to last year of primary education). Data relating to sleep duration from CE2 (third year of primary school - 8-year-old -) showed differences according to whether the school belonged to an Educational Priority Zone (EPZ) or not. It was noticed that between five- and ten-year-old children from EPZ lost 62 minutes of sleep, whereas those not from EPZ only lost 29 minutes. These results would suggest that in addition to developmental factors, environmental factors also play a role in sleep duration. The differences observed were due to later bed times for children from EPZ. Weekly variations in sleep were generally very similar for all the children. At the weekend all the children tended to go to bed later, however this was more noticeable Saturday night for children not living in EPZ. Children slept the longest on Tuesday night due to the fact they got up later Wednesday morning (Wednesday is a day off in the majority of French schools). However, children from the age of nine (CM1 - forth year of primary education -) in EPZ did not benefit from this recuperation time, as they went to bed later but still got up early the next morning.
Conclusion: This study showed that in addition to the physiological and developmental factors that influence children's sleep, the socio-economic context also plays a role. These results as a whole highlight the importance that practitioners and families should pay to maintaining a regularity in the child's routine and in the amount of sleep necessary at each age.