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A Computer-Compatible Method for Observing Falling Asleep Behavior of Hospitalized Children



A family-organizational linkage framework was used to conceptualize the nighttime separation behaviors of 18 hospitalized children, ages 3 to 8, whose parents did not room-in. All children were observed for three consecutive nights during the falling asleep period. A bedtime story, tape recorded by the parent, was played on the second and third nights for one group. Frequency and duration of falling asleep behaviors were recorded and analyzed with the Senders Signals and Receivers System, a computer-compatible method of recording behavioral data. Eight conceptual behavioral categories emerged from the data: sleepy, contact, active, inactive, neutral, communication, distress, and pleasure. The story-children fell asleep sooner (23 minutes vs. 28 minutes), exhibited more sleepy behaviors, and displayed fewer active behaviors. Duration of contact behaviors also was greater in this group (22 minutes vs. 14 minutes). Hospitalized children who hear a bedtime story recorded by a parent appear to use self-soothing behaviors to cope with the separation experience.