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Sleep Timing and Quantity in Ecological and Family Context: A Nationally Representative Time-Diary Study (WP-06-18)

Emma K. Adam, Emily K. Snell, and Patricia Pendry

Associations between children’s sleep behaviors and demographic characteristics, child school schedules and out-of-school activity choices, and family functioning were estimated using data from a nationally representative sample of 2,454 children aged 5–19 years. Total hours of sleep as well as bedtimes and waketimes were estimated using a time-diary approach. Predictors of sleep behaviors were examined separately for younger (5–11.9 years) and older children (12–19 years) and for weekday and weekend sleep behaviors. Older African American children, younger Asian children, and all children with earlier school start times and longer travel times to school reported fewer overall hours of sleep. Greater time watching television predicted fewer hours of weekday sleep for younger children, whereas greater time on homework predicted less sleep for older children. For both younger and older children, greater time spent on religious activities was associated with fewer hours of sleep while time spent eating meals was associated with greater hours of weekday sleep. For younger children, parental warmth was associated with earlier weekday bedtimes, and parenting stress was associated with less weekday sleep. For older children, family economic strain predicted later bedtimes, and parental rules predicted greater hours of sleep due to earlier bedtimes. For weekend sleep, African American ethnicity was once again associated with fewer sleep hours for older children, whereas Hispanic ethnicity and higher parental education predicted fewer sleep hours for younger children. There was less of an impact of family functioning variables in weekends, and a larger impact of activity choices: watching television, using the computer or playing video games, sports, religious activities, socializing, and part-time employment were all associated with fewer total hours of sleep on weekend nights.

Emma K. Adam, Department of Human Development and Social Policy, Northwestern University

Emily K. Snell, Department of Human Development and Social Policy, Northwestern University

Patricia Pendry, Department of Human Development and Social Policy, Northwestern University

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