Researcher Sally Staton
Sally Staton is conducting her PhD research as part of the five-year E4Kids study (http://www.e4kids.org.au), a joint project of the University of Melbourne and QUT, which is looking at the different types of childcare and educational experiences for children.
“I will be looking at the effect different early educational practices and their sleep rituals have on a child’s behaviour, how it affects their night time sleep and whether different types of sleep rituals have an effect on learning,” said Ms Staton.
She said despite plenty of research being available which looked at sleep habits of babies and night sleeping of schoolchildren, there was a gap when it came to napping and night time sleep of preschoolers.
“There are so many variables and so many pressures on early childhood services around most things including sleep, and there has been very little research done in this area,” she said.
“It is important for staff at day-care centres, kindy and so on, as well as for parents, to have concrete information about the optimum sleep practices but at the moment it just isn’t available.
“We have educational practices influenced by the notion of whether daytime napping is important, but we just don’t know the answer to the question.
“It is exciting for us because it is a brand new area with lots of potential, and it could be very helpful to a lot of people – early childhood teachers and staff, as well as sleep clinicians.”
The study will look at children in the year prior to starting school, and will incorporate kindergartens, child care centres, family day care, and children who are not in any formal preschool environment.
Ms Staton said that although most early childhood environments had time allotted for napping or resting, how much time, when the sleep would occur, and how the staff encouraged sleep were different for each.
“It seems to be the norm for most centres to have sleep time incorporated after lunch, but there is variability in the time allotted,” she said.
“We want to find out what sleep practices are, and how they affect these children – we will be looking at methods, policies and practices.”
Ms Staton is in the second year of a five year study.
Media contact: Sharon Thompson, QUT media officer – 3138 2999 or [email protected]