Lost Sleep: the Lack of Sleep Education and Training in School Psychology

Abstract

Insufficient sleep is common among school-attending youth and has been associated with academic, cognitive, social-emotional, and behavioral functioning. Despite these associations, it is believed that few school psychologists are prepared to identify, assess, or treat sleep problems manifested in the K-12 setting. However, no published research has explored the prevalence of behavioral sleep medicine training in the field of school psychology. The purpose of this exploratory study was to examine the current prevalence of behavioral sleep medicine training in school psychology graduate programs, including the prevalence of school psychologists who screen for sleep problems and assess or treat youth sleep disorders in the K-12 setting. Practicing school psychologists (n = 100) were recruited via state school psychology associations and school psychology graduate educators (n = 59; 29.4% response rate) were recruited via e-mail by the primary author. Those who self-selected to participate completed an online survey via Qualtrics. Findings show that 8.5% of surveyed graduate programs offer formal training in behavioral sleep medicine with 80% of surveyed school psychologists never receiving any classroom instruction in behavioral sleep medicine. Additionally, 77% of school psychologists reported never screening for sleep disorders, 79% reported not assessing for sleep disorders during special education evaluations, and 88% reported not treating sleep disorders in the school setting. The majority of school psychologists reported absent or minimal knowledge about how to assess or treat sleep disorders. Findings suggest minimal training in, and practice of, behavioral sleep medicine in the field of school psychology. Opportunities for greater integration are discussed.

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Correspondence to Christopher W. Drapeau.

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The primary author is a member of the Accreditation Committee of the Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine (term runs from 2018 to 2022). There are no other conflicts of interest to report.

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The questionnaire and method for this study were approved by the Human Research Ethics committee of Valparaiso University (ethics approval number: #18-019). All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Table 1 Demographic information for graduate educators and school psychologists

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Drapeau, C.W. Lost Sleep: the Lack of Sleep Education and Training in School Psychology. Contemp School Psychol (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40688-021-00355-8

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Keywords

  • School psychology
  • Behavioral sleep medicine
  • Sleep
  • Sleep disorders
  • Graduate educators
  • Training