Night Eating Syndrome
A nocturnal eating disorder, night eating syndrome wakes you up in the night with an uncontrollable urge to eat. If you are suffering from the syndrome, you would experience an urgent urge to indulge in inadvertent snacking, knowingly or unknowingly.
The syndrome is characterized by a lack of appetite during the day time and irresistible urge to overeat at night. You may suddenly wake out of sleep to eat throughout the night. The syndrome may cause you to experience hunger pangs at night, often creating a feeling that if you do not eat, you won’t be able to fall asleep.
Those suffering from this syndrome may have any of the following symptoms
Some other symptoms of the syndrome include:
- Lack of control over eating behaviors
- Eating mostly at night after dinner
- Waking up several times in the middle of the night to eat
- Thinking that eating will help you sleep better
- Not feeling hungry in the morning
- Losing sleep due to late night food cravings
- Experiencing difficulty falling asleep
- Turning to food for comfort in a stressed out or depressed state
- Experiencing unexpected weight gain
This could be due to
- Dysfunction of the circadian rhythm
- Underlying medical problem, including depression, sleep apnea, stomach ulcers
- Eating disorders, which may include sleep walking, bulimia
- Traumatic event
- Some prescription drugs, such as for ADHD, sleep pills
Often the suffering person feels that fulfilling your urge to eat in the night will improve sleep or help you get back to sleep.
Night eating syndrome may affect people with low levels of hormones that affect appetite, hunger, mood, or sleep. The University of Pennsylvania Health System researchers are of the opinion that those with NES may have low levels of crucial hormones, such as cortisol, melatonin, and leptin, responsible for regulating the desire to eat and rest.
People with NES may exhibit signs of anxiety, stress, or depression during the day, and waking up in the middle of the night to overeat. Cravings for carbohydrate-rich foods are common with those suffering from NES symptoms. They believe that eating carbs will help them feel more relaxed and calmer for some time.
Are you waking up in the night to eat or unconsciously eating in the mid of night? You may be suffering from night eating syndrome.
Late night food cravings and consuming 25% of the food at night makes the digestive system work harder, especially when you should be resting. As a result, most people suffering from night eating syndrome become obese or overweight, which can cause severe, chronic health problems, including:
- Heart disease
- Renal problem
Getting up from sleep in the night could result in disturbed sleep patterns, which could affect cognitive performance and mood.
A multi-dimensional approach is needed to treat the problem. Participation in a stress reduction therapy, treating underlying medical disorders, behavioral therapy, talk therapy, and following a diet plan or chart can help you manage the symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy may be recommended with patients with night eating syndrome.
Antidepressant medicine may be recommended in some cases, where the patient is experiencing frequent episodes of night eating cravings.