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Mandatory Naptimes in Child Care and Children's Nighttime Sleep

Staton, Sally L. PhD*; Smith, Simon S. PhD; Pattinson, Cassandra L. BPsySc(Hons)*; Thorpe, Karen J. PhD*

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: May 2015 - Volume 36 - Issue 4 - p 235–242
doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000157
Original Article

Objectives: To examine the relationship between mandatory naptimes in child care and children's nighttime sleep duration, both concurrently and 12 months later once in school.

Methods: A sample of 168 children (50–72 months; 55% males) attending licensed child care centers were observed across their morning and throughout their scheduled naptime. Mandatory naptime was determined as the period in which children were not permitted any alternative activity except lying on their bed. Teachers reported each child's napping in child care. Nighttime and total sleep duration was reported by parents at 2 time points, in child care and in the second semester of their first school year. General linear models were used to examine group differences in sleep duration between children experiencing 0 to 60 minutes and >60 minutes of mandatory naptime, adjusting for key confounders. Path analysis was conducted to test a mediation model in which mandatory naptime is associated with nighttime sleep duration through increased napping in child care.

Results: Children who experienced >60 minutes of mandatory naptime in child care had significantly less nighttime sleep than those with 0 to 60 minutes of mandatory naptime. This difference persisted at 12-month follow-up, once children were in school. Napping in child care mediated the relationship between mandatory naptime and duration of nighttime sleep.

Conclusions: Exposure to mandatory naptimes of >60 minutes in child care is associated with decreased duration of nighttime sleep that endures beyond child care attendance. Given the large number of children who attend child care, sleep practices within these settings present an important focus for child health.

*School of Psychology and Counselling, Institute for Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Queensland, Australia;

Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety—Queensland, Institute for Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Queensland, Australia.

Address for reprints: Sally L. Staton, PhD, School of Psychology and Counselling, Queensland University of Technology, Victoria Park Rd, Kelvin Grove, Queensland 4051, Australia; e-mail:

Naptime observations in this study were funded through a grant from the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology. The E4Kids study, for which the sample and all other measures are derived, was funded by the Australian Research Council Linkage Projects Scheme (LP0990200), the Victorian Government Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, and the Queensland Government Department of Education and Training. S. L. Staton is supported by an Australian Postgraduate Award (Industry) scholarship from the Australian Research Council.

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Received September , 2014

Accepted February , 2015

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