Culture of Sleep

Sleep habits vary from one culture to another, and even from family to family within. Every child has a different need for sleep and in falling asleep. Rufus’s experience having only previously fallen asleep in the arms of his parents or while being walked in a stroller is not uncommon. Sleep habits are related to time management, that is, understanding when activity or rest is appropriate. Significant differences in sleeping habits can be found when comparing the Asian, Arab and Western areas of the world.  

A mono-sleep phase describes a sleep pattern in which the daily need for sleep is satisfied with one long night's sleep (Western world, 8-hour cultures). It can also be divided into two phases (Siesta cultures, e.g.: Spain) and multi-phase sleep (nap cultures in Asia). Interestingly, in all three sleep cultures, the total number of hours slept within a 24-hour period amount to around 8. Depending on which culture a family is coming from, parents may even ask for the removal of the afternoon nap in the kindergarten entirely in hopes of an improvement of the nightly sleep quality. This is quite often the case in European kindergartens. 

Within these sleeping cultures, there can still be several different sleeping arrangements from household to household. While some families take special care to make the child feel at ease in falling asleep (quiet, alone with parents, in a crib, etc.), other families may have children which can fall asleep wherever their parents may be at the time - on the go or even at a loud party. Some parents swear by given their child a massage to fall asleep, others use music. Others may rock their child to sleep. In some sleeping environments it is pitch black, while others may contain a small amount of light and others still can be as bright as possible. If your kindergarten is located in a place that experiences drastically different amounts of sunlight depending on the time of year, the children probably acclimate to the varying light in the sleeping room. 

Every child is different and as such, the sleeping needs and sleeping habits will vary from child to child. This is clear to child researchers and childcare providers, and yet there still remains a question as to how far a kindergarten can respond to the individual sleeping habits and needs of each child. Parental wishes, observation of specialists, age mixture within the group, and opinions of educators are not always in harmony. Taking into account all of these aspects, a midday rest regime should be carefully discussed and determined in collaboration with all parties affected: midday rest for all, midday rest for no one, or tiered sleeping groups/individual solutions (Abrams, 2017).