Night Eating Syndrome

Night Eating Syndrome-image

You will not find Night Eating Syndrome on a list of sleep disorders.  You can find it in the “other sleep disorders” column. Those who experience NES may not know they have it. Instead, they think they have a cure for insomnia. If the following behaviors seem familiar to you, you may be part of the 1%-2% of the population with NES (night eating syndrome).

You are lingering between sleep and wakefulness, unable to fall into deep sleep. Your solution is to get up and make your way to the kitchen in the dark. By the light of the range hood, make a heavy peanut butter and jelly sandwich on white bread. Pour half a glass of milk. You can do this in your sleep. Quickly eat the sandwich followed by the milk. You go back to bed and fall instantly to sleep.

There was a whole tray of cookies on the counter last night and now half of them are gone. Oh, now you remember. When you got up to go the bathroom last night you scarfed them down before you went back to bed.

It is time to go to bed.  You are not hungry but you need something to eat or you will not be able to sleep. For you, food is part of the unwinding process preparing you for sleep. You tell yourself it is okay to eat before bed because you will not eat again until noon tomorrow. You are not a breakfast eater.

Your family puts their favorite cookies, chips and left overs in sealed containers and leaves them in the detached- garage fridge. You wonder aloud where your weight gain came from and your family laughs, with knowing looks at each other.

You use the phrase “sleep eating” in a room full of women and hear muffled laughs and giggles.

There has not been much investigation into the cause or treatment of night eating syndrome. Medical sleep specialists acknowledge that it does exist. Most people do not consider NES enough to know it has a name. They just think they have quirky eating habits. They are doing what makes them sleep well. If symptoms progress into binge eating or significant weight gain, a visit to your doctor would be wise.

This website is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. Live & Sleep is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content of this website. Always consult your own GP if you’re in any way concerned about your health.