Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Carol T. Miller


The reasons why people may periodically resort to binge eating behavior have long been a focus of study, and the reasons are elusive and varied. For people troubled by poor sleep and living with chronic stress, binge eating may be an attempt by the brain's glucose-depleted executive processing center to both regulate (i.e., increase) glucose levels and induce restorative sleep. Recovery resulting from restorative sleep may lead to a reduction in perceived stress, improved mood, and increased willpower, reducing the likelihood of another binge episode in close temporal proximity to the sleep-induced recovery. A repetitive cycle may ensue when stress inevitably again disturbs sleep, lowering mood, reducing willpower, and heightening sensitivity to stigma and stress.

The purpose of the research described here is to synthesize recent findings from three diverse fields of scientific inquiry to predict factors that influence episodes of binge eating. Combining studies of sleep and sleep disorders, stress and stigma research, and recent work on self-regulatory capacity, I attempt to show how poor sleep ultimately leads to binge eating. A seven-day study consisted of three parts: an initial set of baseline questionnaire and physiological measures; collection of objective sleep quality data using an electronic motion logger; and an online daily diary in which participants completed measures of self-regulatory capacity and reported details about their sleep, stress levels, experiences with stigma, mood, and eating events. The data partially supported a path model where sleep quality, stress, mood, and self-regulation affected binge eating behavior.



Number of Pages

140 p.