Introduction: Prior research indicates that short sleep causes negative changes in mood, emotion regulation, and increased caloric intake in adolescents. Eating as a way to cope with changes in mood may contribute to the relationship between short sleep and greater caloric intake, yet the impact of sleep on emotional eating has not yet been examined. The present study aims to determine if short sleep increases emotional eating and explores whether any increase is related to sleep‐specific changes in mood. Methods: Participants were 47 adolescents aged 14‐17 who completed an experimental sleep manipulation protocol with a randomized, cross‐over design in which teens experienced 5 consecutive nights of short sleep (SS; 6.5 hours in bed) and 5 nights of healthy sleep (HS; 9.5 hours in bed). At the end of each condition, teens completed the Emotional Eating Scale (measuring how often they ate in response to Anxiety/Anger/Frustration, Depressive Symptoms, and Unsettled Feelings), the Profile of Mood States, and a measure of emotion regulation. Results: Compared to HS, during SS teens reported increased emotional eating in response to depressive symptoms (p=.019) but not anxiety/ anger/frustration or unsettled feelings (p>.05). They also reported an overall decline in mood (all subscales p<.05) and worse emotion regulation (p=.009). Finally, changes in sad/depressed mood during sleep restriction were significantly related to increased emotional eating in response to sadness (p=.01). Conclusion: Short sleep causes teens to experience a decline in mood, putting them at risk for using maladaptive strategies to cope with this change. Teens report eating more in response to feelings of sadness when sleep restricted, and this increase in emotional eating is related to changes in their mood induced by insufficient sleep. Increases in emotional eating may help explain the relationship between poor sleep and obesity risk in teens.
Van Dyk, T., Whitacre, C., Howarth, T., Lutz, N., Combs, A., & Beebe, D. (2017). 0961 SHORT SLEEP INDUCES EMOTIONAL EATING AND WORSE MOOD IN TEENS. Sleep, 40(suppl_1), A357–A357. https://doi.org/10.1093/sleepj/zsx050.960