The Link Between Sleep, Healthy Food Choices, and Physical Activity


Amanda Cantu

Faculty Mentor(s)

Tonya Buchanan (Psychology)


Many college students regularly get insufficient sleep – as little as six hours on average per night. Many factors contribute to the lack of sleep including demanding academic schedule, work and family obligations, and time-consuming extracurricular activities. Furthermore, most students do not take proper care of themselves, endangering their overall health. Sleep is the time when the body restores itself from the previous day. Insufficient sleep can jeopardize the body’s ability to restore itself, and negatively affect cognitive ability and decision-making. The ability to make good decisions is crucial to health and general functioning in the world. This research aims to study the link between number of hours of sleep, food choices, and physical activity. We hypothesized that, as sleep time increases, so will healthy food choices and time spent on physical activity. In an online survey, recruited college students from social media platforms (N=60) were asked to record their number of hours of sleep the previous night and minutes spent doing physical activity the current day, as well as complete a food questionnaire. Results suggested that as sleep increases, so do healthy food choices, r(58)=.41, p<.001. Although we did not find a significant relationship between sleep and physical activity (p>.05), this may be partially explained by hectic college student schedules (e.g., schoolwork, club activities, jobs, family), that make it difficult to set time aside for physical activity.

Keywords: Sleep, Health, Decision-Making


5 thoughts on “The Link Between Sleep, Healthy Food Choices, and Physical Activity”

  1. Thank you, Amanda, for the very interesting presentation. I definitely concluded that I do not get enough sleep!

  2. That’s an impressive sample size for COVID times. And I’m surprised at the connection between sleep and healthy food choices but not physical activity!

  3. Victoria Hussung

    Good job Amanda! I enjoyed your presentation and learned a lot! A lack of sleep can impact very much of what we do throughout our day such as your physical activity. However, I did not know it did impact what we eat.

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