Child and Parent Perceptions of Sleep Behaviours: Shaping Policy and Practice Development of School-based Sleep Promotion in Canada

  • Author / Creator
    Bird, Melissa A
  • Inadequate sleep in school-aged children presents as a public health concern across Canada and internationally. The school and home are critical learning environments where children live, learn, and play and have considerable effects on children’s health. As such, interventions that synchronize home-school efforts to improve child health outcomes are more effective than interventions that are limited to one setting. Comprehensive School Health (CSH) is an approach that encourages healthy lifestyle choices and academic achievement in students by connecting the school, home, and community, and is useful as a guiding framework for this research. Given that current school-based sleep promotion programs result in minimal behavioural changes in child and adolescent sleep behaviours, there is a clear need to understand the impact of school-based sleep promotion beyond the school walls. The purpose of this research was to explore the perspectives of students and parents regarding school-based sleep promotion. Qualitative methods were used to (1) examine students’ perceptions of their sleep behaviours and determine if/how they acted as change agents and initiated sleep behaviour changes in the home, and (2) explore parents’ perspectives on sleep behaviours and how parenting practices facilitated and supported, or acted as a barrier, to healthy sleep behaviours in the home.
    Objective 1 used focused ethnography as a method and photovoice, participant observation, and field notes as data generating strategies. Grade 4 and 5 students (n=45) from three APPLE Schools in the Edmonton area of Alberta, Canada participated in photo-taking and one-on-one interviews to select, contextualize, and codify the photos as they related to their perceptions of sleep behaviours. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim with data collection and latent content analysis occurring concurrently. Results indicated that sleep habits were rooted in the home environment and school experiences shaped positive sleep habits in the home. Overall, students conceptualized sleep as “healthy for your body and brain” and translated sleep information home if they thought it was useful to their family.
    Objective 2 used descriptive qualitative as a method and semi-structured interviews, field notes, and reflective journaling as data-generating strategies. Parents of school-aged children (n=25) were recruited from participating APPLE Schools and Alberta Health Services. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim with latent content analysis occurring concurrently. Findings were represented in three themes: parents perceived that sleep was valued and supported, recognized barriers to healthy sleep, and identified schools as allies in promoting sleep.
    Knowledge translation (KT) occurred throughout the entire research project. The researcher consulted with grade 4/5 teachers in the participating APPLE Schools to determine the utility of knowledge translation products based upon school needs. Due to the participatory and visual nature of photovoice, a photobook was considered ideal for highlighting student voice. Throughout the photovoice process, the researcher returned to each classroom to review preliminary findings with students who participated and to conduct member checking. Photobooks and school newsletters served to disseminate valuable sleep insight created by students. In addition, the results of this thesis will inform a larger province-wide initiative that aims to disseminate a range of sleep-related KT products. These KT products will be created through direct consultation with key policymakers and knowledge users within relevant policy and practice communities.
    This thesis demonstrated that students and parents collectively supported school-based sleep promotion and perceived such initiatives as a viable tool to positively shape child sleep habits in the home. Parents and students recognized that sleep behaviour had diverse implications for child health and academic success, and demonstrated knowledge of healthy sleep practices. Notably, parents and students described how sleep practices were rooted in the home, and parents highlighted the need for home-school collaboration to support student sleep behaviours. This thesis identified the CSH approach as an appropriate framework to foster partnerships between the school and home to develop successful school-based sleep promotion initiatives across Canada.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2020
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.