2007 -2009 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science
Background: Sleep is a natural process that all humans participate in. Sufficient sleep has been linked to physical healing, healthy immune system maintenance, normal metabolism, development of the brain, and working memory.
Methods: A study evaluating the relationship between sleep and its correlation to BMI and stress levels was conducted in male college students at the University of Kentucky. The study included 106 undergraduate students, average age 19.46 ± 2.06 years, who live in on-campus housing. Participants were asked to complete a survey inquiring about their sleep duration, body weight, level of physical activity, nightly food consumption, and level of stress.
Results: The participants were divided into two groups: 62 participants had low sleep duration (less than 7 hours) and 44 participants had long sleep duration (greater than 7 hours). The study shows that students with low sleep duration have similar changes in BMI between high school and college when compared to students with longer sleep duration; average BMI increases for the two groups were + 0.634 kg/m2 and + 0.963 kg/m2 respectively. There was no significant correlation found between sleep duration and the time spent on recreational activities. Interestingly, students with lower sleep duration are more likely to eat past midnight. The foods that were most likely to be consumed past midnight included pizza, sandwiches, wings, and other snack items.
Conclusions: The increased nightly food consumption among the low sleep duration group may suggest that sleep duration is correlated to appetite, though it may not be enough to raise the BMI of a male college student significantly.