Self-reported eating disorders and sleep disturbances in young adults: a prospective cohort study Academic Article uri icon


  • PURPOSE: To evaluate the prospective association between eating disorders, disordered eating behaviors, and sleep disturbances in young adults. METHODS: We used prospective cohort data of young adults aged 18-26 from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (N = 12,082). Self-reported exposures of interest (at 18-26 years) included (1) an eating disorder diagnosis proxy; disordered eating behaviors such as (2) restrictive eating behaviors including fasting/skipping meals, (3) compensatory behaviors including vomiting, laxatives/diuretics, or weight loss pills; and (4) loss of control/overeating. Self-reported sleep disturbances at 7-year follow-up included trouble falling or staying asleep. RESULTS: In negative binomial regression models, all four exposures predicted both sleep disturbance outcomes at 7-year follow-up, when adjusting for demographic covariates and baseline sleep disturbances. When additionally adjusting for baseline depressive symptoms, the associations between eating disorder diagnosis proxies and trouble falling (incidence rate ratio [IRR] 1.24; 95% CI 1.05-1.46) and staying (IRR 1.16; 95% CI 1.01-1.35) asleep remained statistically significant; however, the associations between eating behaviors and sleep disturbances were attenuated. CONCLUSIONS: Eating disorders in young adulthood predict sleep disturbances at 7-year follow-up. Young adults with eating disorders or who engage in disordered eating behaviors may be assessed for sleep disturbances. LEVEL III: Evidence obtained from well-designed cohort or case-control analytic studies.

altmetric score

  • 10.2

author list (cited authors)

  • Nagata, J. M., Thurston, I. B., Karazsia, B. T., Woolridge, D., Buckelew, S. M., Murray, S. B., & Calzo, J. P.

citation count

  • 2

publication date

  • March 2020