Participation in an educational sleep program through Head Start resulted in an increase in sleep duration by 30 minutes on average for preschoolers, according to a new study from the University of Michigan. The study, which included contributions from Dr. Alison Miller, assistant research professor of health behavior and health education, and Dr. Julie Lumeng, associate professor of environmental health sciences, explored the outcomes of the Sweet Dreamzzz Early Childhood Sleep Education program, which was developed by the Detroit-area nonprofit organization, Sweet Dreamzzz, Inc. The results are published in the journal SLEEP.
In addition to finding an increase in sleep duration, the study also found that parents’ awareness and knowledge of good sleep behaviors also improved after program participation, but was not sustained over a longer period of time. “We know that an increase in sleep duration of that magnitude is associated with better function for kids during the day” says Dr. Katherine DeRue, who conducted the study while a postgraduate fellow at the University of Michigan. “Parents often underestimate how much sleep their kids require, so an educational program like this, directed at parents when they have more control over their kids’ sleep schedules, can have great impact.” This is believed to be the first study to examine the effect of a sleep education program on the sleep of preschool aged children.