Dietary behaviors and poor sleep quality among young adult women: watch that sugary caffeine!

Sleep Health. 2020 Apr;6(2):214-219. doi: 10.1016/j.sleh.2019.12.006. Epub 2020 Jan 11.


Purpose: Associations of dietary patterns with sleep quality have not been sufficiently studied, particularly among young adults. Studying factors associated with sleep quality among young adults are especially important given the significant life changes they are experiencing, which can influence not only sleep quality but also dietary behaviors.

Methods: We examined the cross-sectional association of sleep quality among 462 women at age 23 years. We used the Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) to define sleep quality. Intake over the previous 7 days of fruits and vegetables, soda, sports drinks, other sweetened drinks, and coffee drinks was assessed by a self-report questionnaire. Linear regression analysis examined the association between PSQI scores and dietary intake.

Results: About 47% of participants were White, 25% Black, 10% Hispanic, and 18% Other. Almost ½ (45%) reported poor sleep quality. Compared with participants reporting consuming no energy drinks, participants who reported consuming any energy drinks had PSQI scores that were 0.84 points higher (7.08 ± 0.51 vs 6.24 ± 0.39; p=0.04) (indicating poorer sleep quality). Participants who reported drinking one or more high-calorie coffee drinks had PSQI scores that were 1.00 points higher compared with those reporting drinking no high-calorie coffee drinks (7.14 ± 0.51 vs 6.14 ± 0.42; p=0.02). Fruit or vegetable intake was not associated with PSQI score.

Conclusions: Poor sleep quality is prevalent among young women. Young women with poor sleep quality should consider their sugary caffeine use to determine if it may be associated with their sleep.

Keywords: Adolescents; Dietary behaviors; Emerging adults; Sleep health.

MeSH terms

  • Caffeine / administration & dosage
  • Caffeine / adverse effects*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet Surveys
  • Dietary Sugars / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Sugars / adverse effects*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult


  • Dietary Sugars
  • Caffeine