What influences the “when” of eating and sleeping?A qualitative interview study

Attia Goheer, Katherine Holzhauer, Jonathan Martinez, Thomas Woolf, Janelle W. Coughlin, Lindsay Martin, Di Zhao, Harold Lehmann, Jeanne M. Clark, Wendy L. Bennett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Timing of eating relative to sleep and endogenous circadian rhythm impacts weight and cardiometabolic health. We used qualitative methods to explore what influences the “when” of eating and sleeping. We conducted 37 one-on-one semi-structured interviews among participants with a body mass index (BMI) ≥ 25 kg/m2 recruited from three internal medicine clinics affiliated with an urban academic hospital. Participants (70.3% Female; 51.4% White; Age range: 21–83 years old) completed measures of social jetlag, physical activity, eating habits, and mobile application use and participated in interviews following a guide developed by the study team. Responses were recorded, transcribed and coded sequentially by two trained researchers using editing-style analysis to identify themes. We identified two main themes, each with subthemes: 1) influences on the “when” of eating and sleeping, with subthemes including social jetlag and being overscheduled, and 2) contextualizing beliefs and perceptions about the “when” of eating and sleeping, with subthemes including perceived recommendations for timing of eating and sleeping, and alignment of behaviors with perceived recommendations. Many participants noted being more flexible in their eating and sleeping times on work-free vs work days. The themes this study identified should be considered when designing interventions that influence the timing of eating and sleeping for weight management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104980
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • Circadian rhythm
  • Eating times
  • Obesity
  • Qualitative
  • Social jetlag

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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