adolescent, sleep restriction, dietary decision making, food appeal, food value


Short sleep has been linked to adolescent obesity risk, but questions remain regarding the dietary mechanisms by which this occurs. We tested whether mildly shortening sleep influences how rewarding and appealing healthy adolescents find several kinds of foods. Eighty-eight healthy adolescents completed a within-subjects crossover sleep experiment comparing 5 days of Short Sleep (6.5 hour sleep opportunity) vs. 5 days of Healthy Sleep (9.5 hour sleep opportunity). Following each condition, adolescents completed measures of food appeal and reinforcing value of food across five food types: sweets/desserts, fruits/vegetables, lean meats/eggs, fast food entrees, and processed snacks. Adolescents averaged 2.2 hours/night longer sleep periods in Healthy Sleep vs. Short Sleep. We observed a significant interaction of experimental order with sleep condition on three of four primary outcomes related to the appeal and reinforcing value of foods (p’s.05). This study provides evidence that restricting adolescents’ sleep opportunity to 6.5 hours (compared to sleeping a healthy amount) increases the appeal and reinforcing value of a variety of foods, but this may occur only under protracted short sleep. Increased food reward may be one mechanism linking chronically shortened sleep with obesity risk in adolescence.

Original Publication Citation

J Sleep Res. 2021 April ; 30(2): e13054. doi:10.1111/jsr.13054.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Department of Health and Human Services




Family, Home, and Social Sciences



University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor

Included in

Psychology Commons