“How do you sleep?” sleep in self-figure drawings of young adolescents in residential care facilities—An exploratory study

Naama Roth, Rachel Lev-Wiesel, Tamar Shochat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Children and adolescents who are referred to residential care facilities (RCFs) have a history of neglect, abuse, or other familial or environmental deficiencies, all of which may contribute to a higher risk of sleep problems. The purpose of this study was to explore sleep patterns of young adolescents living in RCFs and to examine whether these patterns are reflected in their self-figure drawings and accompanying narrative descriptions. Method: The study compared quantitative subjective (self-report) and objective (actigraphy) measurements of sleep patterns in young adolescents living in RCFs (n = 26) and at home (n = 33), and explored a quantitative indicators analysis of “self-figure drawing while sleeping” and qualitative analysis of accompanying narrative descriptions. Results: Adolescents in RCFs went to bed at least an hour earlier and woke up at least half an hour earlier than their home-residing counterparts (p < 0.001). Based on actigraphy, their sleep duration and sleep latency were longer (p < 0.01). They frequently drew themselves in a closed boundary, viewed from above, and used monochromatic colors. Analysis of the narratives revealed themes of exclusion, which reflect the need to exclude oneself from threatening and anxiety-provoking experiences. Conclusions: Adolescents in RCFs take longer to fall asleep; however, imposed early sleep schedules in RCFs enable good sleep hygiene practices that allow for longer sleep duration compared with home-residing peers and can prevent additional sleep problems. The need for protection and a sense of security emerged from the drawings and the accompanying narratives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-122
Number of pages7
JournalSleep Medicine
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2019


  • Residential care facilities
  • Self-figure drawing
  • Sleep patterns
  • Young adolescents

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)


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