Night Eating Syndrome and Sleep Related Eating Disorders; When “Midnight Snacks” Turn into Calorie Loaded Nightmares.
It is estimated that over 6 million Americans are affected by Night Eating Syndrome (NES) or Sleep Related Eating Disorders (SRED), yet most of us have never heard of either of these disorders. Essentially they involve consumption of large quantities of high carb foods during the night. Because NES and SRED share the characteristics of other eating, mood and sleep disorders they can easily be misdiagnosed and mistreated. Those affected by NES or SRED often feel misunderstood, isolated and hopeless. These feelings can exacerbate other eating disorders and perpetuate a cycle of disturbed eating patterns during the day as well as during the night.
How are NES and SRED different?
While they are similar in as which they involve uncontrolled night eating that interferes with sleep and daytime activities they are fundamentally different. Those with NES have a difficult time falling asleep and wake frequently with an intense urge to eat, sleep is prevented until the urge is satisfied. This syndrome usually occurs when the individual is battling stress and depression. SRED is the act of preparing and eating food while sleep walking, these individuals will awake with no memory of eating the night before. This disorder is very common in those who suffer from restrictive eating disorders.
Is Treatment Available for NES and SRED?
Yes, treatment is available. NES and SRED are a combination of disorders so each disorder must be addressed. The most effective treatment involves a combination of psychotherapy and behavior therapy, in some cases medication may also be necessary. When seeking treatment it is advised that you find a health care provider that has experience with NES and SRED.
Allison K, Stunkard A, Thier S. Overcoming Night Eating Syndrome. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications; 2004.
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