Sleep-related eating disorders
Sleep-related eating disorders combine sleep problems with symptoms of eating disorders during the night.
A person with a sleep-related eating disorder may partly wake-up, then rapidly eat food, but then will have mostly forgotten about it by the morning.
Although it is not as common as sleepwalking, nocturnal sleep-related eating disorder (NS-RED) can occur during sleepwalking.
People with this condition often walk into the kitchen and prepare food without a recollection for having done so. If NS-RED continues, a person can experience weight gain.
A closely related disorder, known as night eating syndrome (NES), is diagnosed when a person eats during the night with full awareness and may be unable to fall asleep again without eating.
Symptoms of NES include the following and often persist for at least 2 months:
- No appetite or little appetite for breakfast.
- Eating more after dinner than during the meal itself.
- Eating more than half of your daily recommended food amounts after dinner.
- Waking in the night often and needing a snack to help get back to sleep.
Who gets sleep-related eating disorders?
Sleep-related eating disorders are more common in women.
In some cases the problems begin after dieting during the day causing hunger later on.
Some people with sleep-related eating disorders have also experienced alcoholism, drug abuse or other sleep disorders.
How are sleep-related eating disorders diagnosed and treated?
A doctor will ask about the symptoms, eating habits, medical history and may carry out a physical examination.
Diagnosis may involve an overnight stay in a sleep laboratory. Brain activity is monitored during the night.
Treatment may include medication, stress management classes, assertiveness training, counselling, and limiting the amount of alcohol and caffeine being consumed.
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