Associations of dietary habits and sleep in older adults: a 9-year follow-up cohort study

Key summary points

AbstractSection Aim

This study examined the associations of four types of food consumption behaviors (fruits, vegetables, meat, and egg) on sleep-related measurements among Chinese older adults.

AbstractSection Findings

Fruits, meat, and egg consumption behaviors were positively associated with sleep quality; nevertheless, vegetables consumption was associated only with sufficient sleep duration, but not with sleep quality.

AbstractSection Message

Older adults should be aware that sleep quality and duration might be related to their dietary habits.



China has faced rapid growth of its older adult population, shifting dietary landscape, and sleep-related problems. However, knowledge regarding the associations of dietary behavior on sleep-related outcomes with longitudinal data remains limited. This study investigates the relationships of dietary habits with sleep quality and duration.


Using data from the Chinese Longitudinal Health Longevity Survey (CLHLS), older adults were included in the 9-year span between 2005 and 2014 (age ≥ 60; n = 62,552). Self-reported dietary habits, sleep quality, and sleep duration (hours) were assessed. Four types of dietary behaviors were identified: vegetables, fruits, egg, and meat. Cox proportional hazard models were used to explore the potential association between dietary habits and sleep status. The outcomes were self-reported sleep quality and sufficient sleep duration (7–8 h daily).


In the study sample, the median age was 87 years old, and approximately 57.2% of the study participants were female. More than 60% of the older adult population had good quality sleep, and almost 40% of participants slept 7–8 h a day. In the fully adjusted Cox models, daily fruits, meat, and egg consumption were positively associated with sleep quality (all p < 0.05). Compared with participants who rarely consumed or did not consume vegetables, more frequent consumption was positively associated with sufficient sleep duration (all p < 0.0001) but was not associated with sleep quality.


Older adults should be aware that sleep quality and duration might be related to their dietary habits.

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Data used for this research were provided by the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey (CLHLS) managed by the Center for Healthy Aging and Development Studies, Peking University. CLHLS is supported by funds from the U.S. National Institutes on Aging (NIA), the China Natural Science Foundation, the China Social Science Foundation, and the United Nations Population Fund.


The authors did not receive any funding resources for the research, authorship, and publication of this manuscript.

Author information




HF, YHL, and YCC conceived the study design; HF conducted statistical analyses; HF and YHL prepared the manuscript; YCC provided technical support and edited the manuscript; MS critically revised the manuscript. All authors have approved the final version of this manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Yen-Han Lee.

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Conflict of interest

The authors do not have conflict of interest.

Ethics of clearance

As this study used the public domain de-identified and secondary CLHLS dataset, it was exempted from Institutional Review Board (IRB) review at the authors’ institutions. This present research did not involve any human participants and/or animals.

Informed consent

The CLHLS investigators obtained informed consent from all study participants before they conducted face-to-face interviews for data collection.

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Fan, H., Lee, YH., Chang, YC. et al. Associations of dietary habits and sleep in older adults: a 9-year follow-up cohort study. Eur Geriatr Med 12, 123–131 (2021).

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  • Diet
  • Sleep quality
  • Sleep hours
  • Older adult
  • China