The Feasibility of Screening for Sleep Problems in Early Childhood Education Programs

Kimberly Whitney, Barbara Felt, Akilah Collins-Anderson, Karen Bonuck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Assess the feasibility and staff experience of screening for behavioral sleep problems (BSP) and sleep disordered breathing (SDB) in early childhood education (ECE) settings; examine BSP/SDB prevalence and caregivers’ knowledge/attitudes, perception of child sleep problems, and sleep health engagement in this sample. Method: Eight staff representatives from four ECE sites involved with sleep problem screening procedures within a larger RCT on ECE sleep health, discussed their experiences in a focus group; transcript content reviewed. A random subset of caregiver-child dyads (n = 59) from the four ECE sites completed sleep problem measures (BSP: Children’s Sleep Habits Questionnaire, Short form [SF-CSHQ], Tayside Children’s Sleep Questionnaire [TCSQ-sleep disturbance and difficulty] and SDB: Pediatric Sleep Questionnaire [PSQ], in addition to RCT measures (Parent Knowledge/Attitude/Self-efficacy/Beliefs survey and sleep health goals). Caregiver sleep health engagement was measured by the sleep health goals set. Results: ECE staff reported sleep problem screening as self-explanatory and doable but sometimes administratively burdensome. BSPs were identified in 44% (SF-CSHQ) to 63% (TCSQ-sleep disturbance) of children; SDBs in 13%. Only 11% of caregivers endorsed their child having a sleep “difficulty” (TCSQ). Sleep health goals were set by 85% of caregivers; 63% employed educational materials’ language. Conclusion: Sleep problem screening in ECE is feasible, and problems are elicited. While caregivers readily engage in setting healthy sleep goals, few endorse sleep as difficult. ECE education could improve caregiver understanding/recognition of sleep problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-38
Number of pages11
JournalBehavioral Sleep Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Neurology


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