Sleep disturbances, body mass index and eating behaviour in undergraduate students

Maria J. Soares*, António Macedo, Sandra C. Bos, Berta Maia, Mariana Marques, Ana T. Pereira, Ana A. Gomes, José Valente, Vasco Nogueira, Maria H. Azevedo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study investigates the association between sleep disturbances, body mass index (BMI) and eating behaviour in a sample of undergraduate students. The sample comprises 870 medicine and dentistry students from Coimbra University (62.5% females), aged between 17 and 25years. The Eating Attitudes Test-40 was used to measure eating behaviour, and two questions were applied addressing difficulties of initiating sleep (DIS) and difficulties of maintaining sleep (DMS). A sleep disturbance index (SDI) was calculated from the sum of DIS and DMS scores. Body mass index (BMI) was determined from self-reported weight and height. The correlation analyses generally indicated that global eating disturbance, bulimic behaviour dimension and social pressure to eat were associated particularly with sleep difficulties. An association between diet concerns and sleep difficulties was less consistent. Regression analyses showed that bulimic behaviour (BB) and social pressure to eat (SPE) dimensions were associated significantly with sleep difficulties (DIS, DMS, SDI) in the total sample (BB: from P<0.01 to P<0.001; SPE: P<0.05) and in males (BB: from P<0.05 to P<0.001; SPE: P<0.05) and with insomnia symptoms (P<0.01). In females, bulimic behaviour was the only factor associated significantly with sleep difficulties (SDI, DIS; P<0.01) and with insomnia symptoms (P<0.05). Although BMI was correlated negatively with sleep difficulties (P<0.05), regression analyses indicated that it was not associated significantly with them. Our findings support an association between eating behaviour and sleep disturbances in both genders, which may have treatment implications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-486
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Sleep Research
Volume20
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • BMI
  • Eating behaviour
  • Sleep disturbances

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