Public Health Nutrition

Biological and behavioural determinants

Eating patterns and nutritional characteristics associated with sleep duration

Sangmi Kima1, Lisa A DeRooa1 and Dale P Sandlera1 c1

a1 Epidemiology Branch, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, PO Box 12233 – MD A3-05, 111 T.W. Alexander Drive, Research Triangle Park, NC 27599, USA


Objective To identify major meal and snack eating patterns, and examine their relationships with sleep duration.

Design The analyses included 27 983 participants in a prospective cohort study of women aged 35 to 74 years in the USA or Puerto Rico.

Results The principal component analysis of eight meal and snack frequency items at different times across the day yielded two major eating patterns: (i) eating during conventional eating hours (defined as times from breakfast to dinner); and (ii) dominance of snacks over meals. Comparing the identified eating patterns among women with varying sleep duration (<5, 5–5·9, 6–6·9, 7–7·9, 8–8·9, 9–9·9 and ≥10 h daily), the tendency for eating during conventional eating hours decreased with decreasing sleep duration: adjusted mean score of −0·54 (95 % CI –0·68, –0·41) in women sleeping for <5 h daily v. 0·08 (95 % CI 0·06, 0·11) among those with 7–7·9 h of sleep daily. The extent of snack dominance over meals increased in women with shorter sleep. Women with long (≥10 h) sleep duration had eating patterns similar to those with short (<6 h) sleep duration. Lower tendency for eating during conventional eating hours and greater snack dominance over meals were also related to higher intakes of fat and sweets for energy and lower intakes of fruits and vegetables.

Conclusions Disrupted eating patterns and diet of poor nutritional quality may exacerbate the development of obesity and metabolic diseases in habitual short and very long sleepers.

(Received June 02 2009)

(Accepted August 11 2009)

(Online publication October 29 2010)


c1 Corresponding author: Email