Environmental Scan of Sleep Health in Early Childhood Programs

Behav Sleep Med. Sep-Oct 2020;18(5):598-610. doi: 10.1080/15402002.2019.1640222. Epub 2019 Jul 18.


Objective: To ascertain how sleep health knowledge is translated to early care and education (ECE) programs, using a multi-component environmental scan.

Methods: A website scan identified organizations' sleep content re: recommended practices, developmental effects, and "actionable" ratings (0-2). ECE staff surveys assessed preparedness, practices, and beliefs about addressing sleep health and sleep problems in ECE programs. Semi-structured interviews with stakeholders from the ECE, pediatric and sleep communities assessed awareness, priorities, and practices at their organizations.

Results: Of 15 websites scanned, half lacked sleep content on links to development, optimal duration, or scientific background. ECE staff (n = 31) were comfortable speaking to parents about healthy sleep, and with incorporating sleep education and guidance into ECE. Stakeholders (n = 15) rated healthy sleep as a high relevance, but lower priority issue. Within ECE settings stakeholders reported that knowledge about specific links to health and development was poor and that sleep health was often obscured by "safe sleep" issues. Their recommendations included: linking sleep health to "hot topics" such as obesity or preschool suspensions and expulsions, integrating it with the teaching of routines, and raising public awareness.

Conclusion: Despite understanding that healthy sleep promotes school readiness, there is insufficiently specific, actionable information in ECE training, programs, or policies. Findings suggest a need for an awareness campaign with clear, actionable messaging, dissemination of turnkey materials, and integration with policy and professional training systems.

Trial registration: - ClinicalTrials.Gov: NCT03556462.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / diagnosis*

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03556462