Promoting sleep health among families of young children in head start: Protocol for a social-ecologicalapproach

Karen A. Bonuck, Arthur Blank, Barbara True-Felt, Ronald Chervin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Inadequate or poor quality sleep in early childhood impairs social-emotional and cognitive function via effects on the developing brain and increases obesity risk via hormonal and endocrine effects. The prevalence of short sleep duration, behavioral sleep problems, andsleep-disorderedbreathing among children aged 3 to 5 years is 20% to 50%. Healthy sleep habits increase sleep duration and prevent behavioral sleep problems. Awareness of sleepdisorderedbreathing symptoms leads to its timely treatment. We designed a study that aims to empower families whose children are in early childhood programs with the knowledge and skills needed to obtain healthy sleep and to recognize a sleep problem. We used the social-ecological framework to guide individual, interpersonal, organizational, community, and policy interventions. This study builds on the Sweet Dreamzzz, Inc, Early Childhood Sleep Education Program (ECSEP) in Head Start. A steppedwedge-clusterrandomized trial will test effects on child, parent, and classroom outcomes; a policy evaluation will assess the impact of knowledge-translation strategies. The study has 3 aims. The first is to adapt educational materials into multimedia formats and build the capacity of Head Start agencies to implement the study. The second aim is to enroll 540 parent-child dyads in a primary prevention trial of sleep health promotion in Head Start and to analyze effects on children's sleep duration (primary outcome); parents' knowledge, attitudes,self-efficacy,and behavior; and children's sleep difficulties. The third aim is to conduct a secondary prevention feasibility study of screening and guidance for sleep problems. Secondary outcomes are changes in classroom behaviors and policies. Integrating sleep health literacy into early childhood programs could affect the life-course development of millions of children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number160144
JournalPreventing Chronic Disease
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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