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September 29, 2023

Subjective Sleep Quality, Caffeine, and Dieting Behaviors Among University-Attending Young Adults

E A Claydon et al, 2023. Subjective Sleep Quality, Caffeine, and Dieting Behaviors Among University-Attending Young Adults, Nat Sci Sleep, Volume 15.


Background: Research has shown that university students engage in behaviors that are associated with poor sleep quality, such as higher caffeine and alcohol intake. Yet studies exploring eating habits and weight loss mechanisms related to sleep quality have generally been inconclusive. This study explored total daily caffeine consumption (along with different sources of caffeine) as well as dieting and exercising to lose weight in the last 30 days as risk factors for poor sleep quality among an undergraduate university population.

Methods: Full-time undergraduate students (n = 400) participated in an anonymous online survey about various health behaviors at a large, mid-Atlantic university. Multivariable linear regressions were run to consider subjective sleep quality in relation to caffeine consumption and dieting behavior along with other covariates. A sensitivity analysis was run to explore how different types of caffeinated beverages were associated with sleep quality as well. All analyses were conducted using SAS JMP Version 16.

Results: A stepwise multivariable linear regression controlling for alcohol use, grade point average, biological sex, and stress showed significant increases in sleep quality scores (indicating worsening sleep quality). Total caffeine consumption remained significant through the models until psychosocial factors were added (B = 0.003, p = 0.0035). The sensitivity analysis indicated that total caffeine consumption from soda remained significant across all models, significantly increasing sleep quality scores (B = 0.01; p = 0.0054).

Discussion: Higher amounts of caffeine from sodas were associated with more significant decreases in sleep quality than other types of caffeine, including energy drinks, coffee, and tea. Dieting or exercising to lose weight was not significantly associated with sleep quality. The results of this study can help to refine intervention efforts designed to improve sleep quality among undergraduate university students. Behavioral interventions specific to reducing caffeine intake, specifically from caffeinated sodas, may prove to be beneficial with this population.

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