Eating your feelings? Testing a model of employees' work-related stressors, sleep quality, and unhealthy eating

J Appl Psychol. 2017 Aug;102(8):1237-1258. doi: 10.1037/apl0000209. Epub 2017 Apr 10.


Although organizational research on health-related behaviors has become increasingly popular, little attention has been paid to unhealthy eating. Drawing on the self-regulation perspective, we conducted 2 daily diary studies to examine the relationships between work-related stressors, sleep quality, negative mood, and eating behaviors. Study 1 sampled 125 participants from 5 Chinese information technology companies and showed that when participants experienced higher levels of job demands in the morning, they consumed more types of unhealthy food and fewer types of healthy food in the evening. In addition, sleep quality from the previous night buffered the effect of morning job demands on evening unhealthy food consumption. Study 2 used data from 110 customer service employees from a Chinese telecommunications company and further demonstrated a positive association between morning customer mistreatment and evening overeating behaviors, as well as the buffering effect of sleep quality. Results from Study 2 also supported afternoon negative mood as a mediator linking morning customer mistreatment to evening overeating behaviors. Finally, our findings revealed that the buffering effect of sleep quality was channeled through employees' vigor in the morning, which subsequently weakened the effect of customer mistreatment on negative mood. (PsycINFO Database Record

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Employment / psychology*
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Occupational Stress / physiopathology*
  • Sleep / physiology*