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Volume 10 No. 03
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Accepted Papers

Scientific Investigations

Sleep Environments and Sleep Durations in a Sample of Low-Income Preschool Children

Katherine E. Wilson, M.D., M.S.1; Alison L. Miller, Ph.D.2,3; Julie C. Lumeng, M.D.2,4; Ronald D. Chervin, M.D., M.S., F.A.A.S.M.1
1Sleep Disorders Center and Department of Neurology; 2Center for Human Growth and Development; 3Department of Health Education and Health Behavior, School of Public Health; 4Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Study Objectives:

Sleep duration is commonly studied in children, but less is known about the potential impact of adverse sleep environments, particularly at preschool ages. We examined the frequency of suboptimal sleep environments and tested for associations with sleep duration or nocturnal sleep time among low-income preschool children.


Parents of Head Start preschoolers in Michigan (Detroit and greater Lansing) completed questionnaires on children's sleep schedules and sleep environments. Respondents indicated how often their children slept in a place “too bright,” “too loud,” “too cold,” or “too hot” on a scale of 1 = never to 5 = always. A suboptimal sleep environment (SSE) was defined when one or more of these conditions were reported for ≥ 1-2 nights/week. Weeknight sleep duration or reported time that the child went to sleep was regressed on SSE as an explanatory variable, with adjustment for age, race/ethnicity, gender, maternal education, and average daily nap duration.


Among 133 preschool children, mean age was 4.1 ± 0.5 (SD), 48% were male, 39% were white, and 52% were black; 34% of parents had ≤ a high school degree. Parents reported that 26 (20%) of the children slept in a SSE ≥ 1-2 nights per week. In regression models, SSE was associated with 27 minutes shorter sleep duration (β = -0.45, SE = 0.22, p = 0.044) and 22 minutes later time child “fell asleep” (β = 0.37, SE = 0.19, p = 0.048) on weeknights.


Among these Head Start preschool children, environmental challenges to adequate sleep are not uncommon, and they may have consequences. Clinician or preschool assessment of sleep environments may open opportunities to improve sleep at early ages.


Wilson KE; Miller AL; Lumeng JC; Chervin RD. Sleep environments and sleep durations in a sample of low-income preschool children. J Clin Sleep Med 2014;10(3):299-305.

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