Beds for Kids: Enhancing Pediatric Sleep Among Low-income Youth

Statement of Problem

Sleep is one of the most fundamental aspects of child development, particularly for children between the ages of two and five years old. Unfortunately, many young children, particularly socioeconomically disadvantaged youth, do not experience healthy sleep. Studies show that many lower-socioeconomic status children live in noisy or high-violence neighborhoods, contributing to worse sleep quality and increased sleep disturbances in comparison to their higher-income peers. Additionally, overcrowded homes that lack a child bed or other designated spaces where children can sleep can make it very difficult for youth to get healthy sleep.

Insufficient and poor-quality sleep are associated with a number of adverse developmental outcomes, including diminished neurocognitive, behavioral and physical health, as well as worse family functioning. Considering these obstacles and the importance of promoting healthy sleep during early childhood, we launched this project to understand how providing beds through the Beds for Kids program may positively impact a child’s measured nightly sleep.

Description

Our previous research suggests that providing a child with a bed and sleep education can improve caregiver-reported child nighttime sleep duration and reduce poor sleep habits, such as the use of electronics in the bedroom. The Beds for Kids program provides beds, bedding, and healthy sleep education to children in the greater Philadelphia region who are living without an individual bed and in a residence at or below 100 percent of the federal poverty line. This study measures how changes in nightly sleep impact overall daily child and family functioning. For the purposes of this study, aspects of poor child sleep include short sleep duration, later bedtimes, inconsistent sleep timing, night wakings and poor caregiver-rated sleep quality.

We are recruiting caregiver-child pairs with a child aged two to five years from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s primary care sites for this research. We are asking caregivers to complete daily ratings of child sleep, behavior and their own mood over a two-week period, with half of participants randomized to receive a bed through Beds for Kids after seven days, and the other half to receive a bed after 14 days. Caregivers then report back to us on child sleep and behavior one month after they receive the bed. In analyzing the impact of providing beds, we hope to obtain a better understanding of sleep patterns of young children living in impoverished homes and the broader impact providing beds can have on daily child and caregiver functioning.

Next Steps

Beds for Kids is a non-profit program that seeks to help families establish, or reestablish, self-sufficient lives by providing them with some of the necessities of a functional home environment. Analyzing the impact of Beds for Kids can offer deeper insight into how the mere presence of a bed can impact nightly child sleep, daily child behavior and caregiver mood, opening the door for future outreach programs.

This project page was last updated in September 2019.

Suggested Citation

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, PolicyLab. Beds for Kids: Enhancing Pediatric Sleep Among Low-income Youth [Online]. Available at: http://www.policylab.chop.edu [Accessed: plug in date accessed here].