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The Preschool Cam Study

Currently recruiting – until December 2022
Join the study

How do pre-bedtime activities affect how well preschool children sleep?

Young children need good quality sleep to support normal growth, development and wellbeing. Getting young tamariki to sleep can be challenging at times, and when they are not sleeping well this can affect not only their health and wellbeing, but also that of the whole whānau.

We know that pre-bedtime activities such as screen-time, reading, physical activity or eating certain types of food too close to bedtime can influence how well children sleep, but we don’t know what particular factors have the greatest impact. Pre-bedtime activities and routines can be measured by questionnaires but it can be hard for parents to estimate how often and how long children spend on each activity.

Our team has previously completed a pilot study showing we could successfully use wearable cameras to capture what activities preschool children did before bedtime. Building on this, we are using wearable cameras to measure the effect of different pre-bedtime activities, behaviours and routines on children’s sleep quality and duration.

Wearable cameras – Giving us a better picture of how to improve sleep for young children

Over 5 consecutive evenings, preschool-aged children (3-4 years old) wear a small video camera fitted in a comfortable chest harness, which will record their activities for the 2 hours before bedtime. In addition, parents wear a camera from when the child takes their camera off until the child’s lights-out time (to capture in-bed activities such as reading). Parents have the opportunity to view the footage and delete anything if they would like to, before the researchers see it. The video information will then be coded and analysed so we can look at the effect of the different activities (such as screen-time) on children’s sleep.

Sleep will be monitored via actigraphy (a movement sensor worn on the wrist) and contact between the child and parent during the night, measured by them each wearing a proximity sensor on their ankle. Standardised questionnaires and a sleep diary will look at child sleep habits, sleep environment and parental sleep.

We hope this information can then be used to refine clinical recommendations and provide new insights for effective ways to improve sleep in this young age-group.

This study has been approved by the University of Otago Human Ethics Committee (Health) reference H21/068.


Join the study

Thanks for your interest in the Preschool Cam Study.

We are looking for parents/caregivers who:

  • Live in the wider Dunedin area
  • Have tamariki aged 3 and 4 years old, and
  • Children who don’t have a medical or physical condition that interferes with their sleep or their ability to wear a camera

Your whānau will receive a $100 voucher as a koha/thanks for participating. You don’t need to go anywhere for appointments, we come to you.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. If you would like to register for this study, please click on the button below. You will be taken to a screening survey that will check whether or not you are eligible to take part. You will also be able to access a detailed information sheet about the study.


Register for the Preschool Cam Study


Meet the researchers

Lauren Miller imageLauren Miller

Lauren is a PhD candidate and a paediatric registrar.

Sarahmarie Kuroko imageSarahmarie Kuroko (Ngāti Kahungunu)

Sarahmarie is an Assistant Research Fellow. Her background is in Nutrition and Psychology.

Lauren and Sarahmarie will be doing the home visits and running the day-to-day aspects of the study.


Barbara Galland 2021 image 186Professor Barbara Galland

Barbara is a child sleep expert, and is the lead investigator for the Preschool Cam Study.

Professor Barbara Galland's profile page

Rachael Taylor 2021 imageProfessor Rachael Taylor

Rachael is a nutritionist and child obesity expert, who is involved with the design and oversight of the Preschool Cam Study.

Professor Rachael Taylor's profile page

Kim Meredith-Jones 2021 imageDr Kim Meredith-Jones

Dr Meredith-Jones is an active member of the Sensor Methods Collaboratory, a working group that includes international researchers with expertise in all areas of behavioural monitoring, including accelerometry and wearable cameras. She has extensive research experience in the measurement of sleep, physical activity and sedentary time in children using these technologies and will oversee these aspects of the study.

Dr Kim Meredith Jones's profile page

Barry Taylor imageProfessor Barry Taylor

Barry is a paediatrician and child health researcher, particularly in the areas of sleep and obesity. He is involved in the oversight of the study.

Professor Barry Taylor's profile page

Jill Haszard 2021 imageDr Jill Haszard

Jill is a biostatistician who also has a background in nutrition. Jill will design and run the statistical analyses for the Preschool Cam Study.

Dr Jill Haszard's profile page

Contact us

Lauren Miller
Department of Women's and Children's Health
Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago