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Dr. Lauren Hale, Stony Brook University – Teens, Sleep, and Diet

In today’s Academic Minute, Dr. Lauren Hale of Stony Brook University reveals the connection between a teen’s sleep and diet choices.

Lauren Hale is an associate professor of preventative medicine at Stony Brook University where her research interests include the social determinants of sleep, health disparities, maternal and child health, and health in retirement. She holds a Ph.D. from Princeton University.

About Dr. Hale

Dr. Lauren Hale – Teens, Sleep, and Diet

My colleagues and I are interested in the association between habitual sleep duration and dietary choices among teenagers.  We examined data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescents, a nationally representative study of over 13,000 American teenagers.   

We found that teens that reported sleeping less than seven hours per night had 25% decreased odds of having eaten at least one fruit and one vegetable in the previous day, compared to teens who reported sleeping the recommended amount which is nine or hours per night. We also found that short sleeping teens had 20% increased odds of having eaten fast food two or more times in the past week compared to those sleeping 9 or more hours per night.  These findings persisted even after adjustment for potentially confounding variables including age, sex, parental education, physical activity, and time spent watching TV and playing video games.

Our research builds upon laboratory studies that reveal that partial sleep deprivation is associated with changes in hormones that regulate appetite.  Further, our research may help us understand why we see a positive association between chronic short sleep duration and obesity in children and adolescents.
It is probably no surprise that sleep is an important health behavior, with short and longer-term benefits for your health and wellbeing.  In the short term, you feel better, concentrate better, relate better to other people, and you may be more physically active.  Our recent study provides further support for the notion that sleep duration may also affect your food choices.


Production support for the Academic Minute comes from Newman’s Own, giving all profits to charity and pursuing the common good for over 30 years, and from Mount Holyoke College.

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