There are so many factors that can influence a child’s adjustment to kindergarten. Have you considered sleep hygiene as measured by sleep duration in the pre-kindergarten (pre-K) year as a predictive factor? In a study being early released this month, Teti et al (10.1542/peds.2021-054362) used wrist actigraphy to measure sleep-duration during a one-week period during pre-K (July-August), early K (late September), mid-K (late November) and late K (mid to late April). They evaluated sleep across the full week, the proportion of 24-hour periods during which a child slept for 10 or more hours, and the proportion of nighttime sleep periods per week of 10 or more hours. Kindergarten teachers separately reported socioemotional status, learning engagement, executive functioning, and academic outcomes.
The results of this study highlight that the strongest positive association between sleep duration and kindergarten performance was noted when children during the pre-K period slept 10 or more hours per night with the most favorable outcomes and this association remained strong during all subsequent survey periods during the kindergarten year. Even when confounders such as socioeconomic status, health status, and even missed school days were accounted for, the sleep duration association with favorable kindergarten adjustment and performance persisted.
The authors provide some interesting discussion as to why this association is important for us to consider and encourage us to promote sleep hygiene even before children start kindergarten to ensure that 10 hours of nighttime sleep actually occur. If you are looking for a way to improve kindergarten adjustment, promoting sleep duration might be a strategy worth sharing with families. You won’t doze off checking out this study—so link to it and perhaps you’ll try to increase your own sleep duration and not just those of your patients starting kindergarten this year.