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Five Reasons Why Very Poor Children May Miss Their Sleep


We talked with Tarcísia Rose de Sousa Farias, Projeto Tamandaré’s educational coordinator, about the role of sleep for very small children and the importance their early childhood programme places on guaranteeing a good nap for their 200 young children as an essential part of their programme. (See here)


But the question this conversation raised for us was: Why is it so hard for very poor families to promote healthy and vital quality sleep for their young children? Here are a few answers which Tarcísia gave us.


  1. Cramped living conditions. “Children and their families live in tiny rooms, a gap between two walls that they call a room. And sometimes you will find a brother, a cousin, an aunt; everybody living there together. In these places, the child does not have a small space dedicated to their own sleep,” says Tarcísia. In these overcrowded conditions, it is hard to not be pushed and shoved while sleeping. The activity of those who are awake interferes with the greater needs for sleep present in the little ones.

  2. Noise levels. Walking through the very poor neighborhoods, it is common to hear loud music emanating from various huts, sometimes with competing music styles. Even though municipal laws require silence after a certain time of the night, these laws are not always respected.

  3. Heat levels. Even though these populations are used to the hot temperatures of a tropical climate, they do not have at their disposal the normal mechanisms to cool off like access to air conditioning or tiled higher roofs. The result is stifling and sometimes even dangerous living environments where the heat rises above reasonable levels exposing children to the risk of dehydration.

  4. Irregular family routines. In the town of Tamandaré, the poor serve the tourist industry with its seasonal ups and downs and irregular hours. They may work at the beach peddling goods during the morning and serving at parties late into the night. This causes a pattern of irregular work which makes it hard for Mums to establish any routine.

  5. Exposure to violence. Many of the children Projeto Tamandaré receives are exposed to alcoholism and disruption in the home which these vices are known to cause. Domestic violence is a factor that cannot be overlooked when thinking about sleep conditions for small children.

These are all reasons that need to be mitigated and that is why Projeto Tamandaré seeks to influence not only the children but also the families and communities from which they come.


  • Writer by: Elsie Gilbert


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