Poor sleep confers significant morbidities and is highly prevalent among college students in the United States. This research assessed sleep quality and its association with health-related quality of life (HRQOL). Further, because sleep quality research often lacks a theoretical foundation, we applied a theoretical model using selected constructs from the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) and Health Belief Model (HBM). A random, stratified sample of undergraduate students participated in an online survey (N = 494). Structural equation modeling assessed the association between theoretical constructs, sleep quality, and HRQOL. The final model fit was acceptable, with ~ 20% of the variance in sleep quality explained by the theoretical constructs and control variables. HBM constructs were indirectly and negatively related to sleep quality, mediated through behavioral intention, and also positively and directly associated with behavioral intention. Behavioral intention was strongly and negatively associated with sleep quality. Approximately 31% of the variance in HRQOL was explained by poor sleep quality, behavioral intention, and gender. Poor sleep was most strongly associated with reduced HRQOL. HBM constructs and behavioral intention from TPB were significantly associated with poor sleep quality, and poor sleep was significantly related to poor HRQOL.