Loyola University Chicago

Department of Psychology


Laura Nicholson

Laura Nicholson
Training Track: Clinical 
Lab: Activity Matters Lab
Advisor: Amy Bohnert, Ph.D.
Office: Coffey Hall 207


Consistency of sleep, routines, executive functioning, childhood obesity

Masters Thesis Title

Relations between Consistency of Health Behaviors and BMI in First Year College Students

Masters Thesis Abstract

Existing research suggests that individuals with erratic schedules (e.g., shift workers) may be at greater risk for weight gain. This may be due, in part, to the inconsistent timing of health behaviors, such as sleep. Little is known, however about the relevance of the consistent timing of health behaviors among other populations, including college students who are risk for weight gain. For many students, college represents a transition to a more self-directed and less structured environment making it an ideal time to consider health behaviors.  The current study examined the consistency of three health behaviors (i.e. sleep, eating occurrences, and physical activity) and relations with body weight among first year college students at a large Midwestern university.  Daily diary methods were used to collect self-report data on the timing of these health behaviors over a seven day period. The timing of these variables were transformed to calculate several indices of consistency, and are described for the full sample as well as by gender. In addition, these consistency variables were examined using bootstrapping to determine relations to body mass index (BMI) among first year college students, and whether these relations are moderated by gender. Results demonstrate that sleep variability in wake time was positively associated with BMI, above and beyond sleep duration. Consistency of EO and PA were not associated with BMI, though were significantly intercorrelated with consistency of sleep timing calling for additional research.  Finally, while not a variable of interest initially, nap duration was also positively correlated with BMI. This suggests that college students may benefit from waking up at a consistent time every morning, calling for health education programs within universities to encourage students to maintain consistent sleep schedules. 

Masters Thesis Committee

Amy Bohnert, PhD; Grayson Holmbeck, PhD