Objective: The goal of our study was to examine the associations between sleep and eating behaviors. Specifically, we examined associations between sleep duration and continuity with behaviors that promote eating regardless of true physiologic hunger state including emotional (food intake in response to emotional distress) external (eating in response to the sight or smell of food), and restrained eating (a paradoxical behavior; food intake is initially reduced to lose or maintain body weight, but followed by increased consumption and binge eating).
Participants: Fifty-six children (29 boys; 27 girls) ages 5 to 12 years participated in the study. Mean age was 7.7±1.9 years, and average body mass index (BMI) was within the healthy range (17.8±4.3 kg/m(2)).
Methods: Sleep duration, continuity and schedule were assessed using actigraphy and self-reports. The Child Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire-modified version (DEBQ-M) was used to examine levels of emotional, external and restrained eating in the children.
Results: Associations between the sleep and eating behaviors were examined using partial correlations and multiple regression analyses. External eating score was negatively associated with sleep duration; emotional eating score was associated with lower levels of sleep continuity; and restrained eating score were associated with a later sleep start and later bedtime.
Conclusions: Short sleep duration and poor sleep continuity were associated with higher levels of eating behaviors shown to be associated with increased food intake. Therefore, sleep loss may be associated with diminished self-regulation of appetite in children, increasing the risk for overeating and obesity.
Keywords: Children; Eating behaviors; Emotional eating; External eating; Restrained eating; Sleep.
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