The less you sleep, the more you eat

Sleep and food intake: A multisystem review of mechanisms in children and adults

From Journal of Health Psychology

Factors influencing food intake have, and continue to be, a hotly contested subject. This paper suggests that disrupted sleep could be one factor contributing to excessive food intake and thus leading to long term chronic health damage in both adults and children.

In this special issue on Food, Diets, and Dieting, the paper explores how a bad night’s sleep – something that affects millions of people worldwide – can affect eating habits and behaviors. Though it is well-known that a bad night’s sleep can affect our ability to perform daily duties, what is less known is how disrupted sleep can influence both our food choices and intake.


The foods we eat have substantial impact on our health, and excessive food intake is associated with numerous long-term health conditions. It is therefore essential to understand the factors influencing this crucial health behavior. Research has identified sleep problems as one such factor; however, little research has examined how sleep problems impact food intake. Using a multisystemic perspective, this article proposes a variety of ways in which sleep problems likely increase food intake and illustrates the need for research to empirically examine these underlying mechanisms. Such research would have important treatment implications for health conditions often treated with dietary interventions.

Link to special issue table of contents

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Article details
Alyssa Lundahl and Timothy D Nelson
Sleep and food intake: A multisystem review of mechanisms in children and adults J Health Psychol June 2015 20: 794-805, doi:10.1177/1359105315573427








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