BACKGROUND: Healthy sleep among children has social, physical and mental health benefits. As most of today’s children do not meet the healthy sleep recommendations, effective interventions are urgently needed. This systematic review summarizes the characteristics and effectiveness of interventions aiming to stimulate healthy sleeping in a general population of school-aged children.
METHODS: The search engines PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, PsycInfo and the Cochrane Database Library were systematically searched up to March 2016. We included all studies evaluating interventions targeting healthy sleep duration and/or bedtime routines of children aged 4–12 years. All steps in this systematic review, i.e. search, study selection, quality assessment and data extraction, were performed following CRD Guidelines and reported according to the PRISMA Statement.
RESULTS: Eleven studies were included, of which only two were of strong quality. The interventions varied in terms of targeted determinants and intervention setting. Overall, no evidence was found favoring a particular intervention strategy. One intervention that delayed school start time and two multi-behavioral interventions that targeted both the school and home setting showed promising effects in terms of increasing sleep duration.
CONCLUSION: Due to few high quality studies, evidence for the effectiveness of any particular intervention strategy to stimulate healthy sleep in children is still inconclusive. However, the more effective interventions in stimulating healthy sleep duration and adherence to regular bedtimes were mostly multi-behavioral interventions that included creating daily healthy routines and combined intervention settings (e.g. home and school). In conclusion, high-quality studies evaluating systematically developed interventions are needed to move this field forward.