Cultures of sleep and learning in early childhood (SLEAC)

The SLEAC research project aims to understand children’s everyday sleep practices and learning from a cultural-historical activity theory perspective.

Sleep and rest are central for children’s learning, development and wellbeing. However, early childhood sleep and rest practices have been seldom studied in educational sciences, especially from a learning sciences perspective. In effect, discussion concerning children’s sleep, rest and related societal problems and their possible solutions rely much on research done within sleep science, sociology or anthropology. The way in which children learn to rest and sleep, how they are taught and educated to do so and how the cultural practices around sleep change and can be transformed for better sleep, remain largely unexplored. By answering these questions, the SLEAC project aims to enrich and enliven scientific, educational and societal discussions about sleep and our sleep practices as well to offer new insight and discoveries to foster them.

The SLEAC project is an emerging umbrella project for multiple smaller research endeavors focusing on the various aspects of early childhood sleeping cultures. What brings these endeavors is their shared conceptualization of sleep and rest as cultural practices and their interest in understanding these practices from a cultural-historical activity theory perspective. Hence, under the SLEAC umbrella sleep and rest are understood not just as biological but also as culturally mediated processes. Similarly, sleep and rest are seen as shared engagements which emerge through our everyday interactions and are enmeshed as part of, for example, ECEC settings, family life and their activities. What follows also is that learning to sleep and rest need to be explored from individual, relational and organizational perspectives across the SLEAC projects.  


THE SLEAC project is led by Dr. Jaakko Hilppö.