The roles of sleep and executive function in adolescent nighttime eating

Cara C. Tomaso, Amy L. Yaroch, Jennie L. Hill, Tammy Jackson, Jennifer M. Nelson, Tiffany James, W. Alex Mason, Kimberly A. Espy, Timothy D. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nighttime eating has been associated with obesity, inflammation, and poor nutritional intake, yet correlates of this behavior are understudied in pediatric populations and among adolescents in particular. The current study examines modifiable factors related to nighttime eating, including sleep parameters and regulatory abilities—as well as the interplay between these constructs—in adolescents. A total of 223 adolescents (Mage = 15.32 years, 52.9 % female, 15.7 % classified as overweight, 21.1 % had obesity) wore ActiGraph devices to measure sleep and were instructed to complete three 24-h dietary recall measures over a two-week period. Participants also completed self-report measures of executive function. Greater variability in sleep duration was consistently associated with higher average calorie, sugar, and fat consumption after 8, 9, and 10 PM. The main effect of global executive function on all nighttime eating measures was nonsignificant, and executive function did not moderate relationships between sleep parameters and nighttime eating measures. Since adolescents' eating habits may set the stage for lifelong dietary practices, efforts to ensure consistent sleep duration may reduce risk for nighttime eating in this nutritionally vulnerable population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101657
JournalEating Behaviors
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • Adolescents
  • Eating behaviors
  • Executive function
  • Nighttime eating
  • Sleep
  • Sleep variability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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