Cultural influences on the bedtime behaviors of young children

Sleep Med. 2005 Jul;6(4):319-24. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2005.02.001. Epub 2005 Apr 1.


Background and purpose: This study was designed to assess potential relationships of race and socioeconomic status (SES) to bedtime behavior from a community sample of 2- to 7-year-old children.

Patients and methods: A previously validated sleep questionnaire was administered to parents of children enrolled in the Jefferson County, Kentucky school system. The sleep behavior of African-American (n=973) and Caucasian (n=2398) children was analyzed. Median annual income of residential zip codes was used as a proxy for SES.

Results: Mean age was 4.8+/-1.1 years. Two composite 'sleep behavior scores' were generated related to excessive daytime sleepiness and sleep-related behavior. Children in the lower SES group had significantly more impaired 'sleep behavior scores' than those in the higher SES group, regardless of race or age. African-American children had later bedtimes than Caucasian children with similar rise times, resulting in significantly shorter sleep duration and more excessive daytime sleepiness, independent of SES and age.

Conclusions: Cultural variables impact sleep-related behavior in children. Race and SES have independent relationships with sleep behavior. Independent of SES, African-American children sleep less due to later bedtimes. SES does play a role, however, in parentally reported sleep-related behavior problems. Thus, cultural variables such as race and SES are important modifiers of sleep behaviors in children and should be addressed in sleep education programs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sleep*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires