What is Night Eating Syndrome? An Overview

Night eating syndrome

Night eating syndrome (NES) is a disorder characterized by nighttime overeating and sleep disturbances. You eat a lot after dinner, have difficulty sleeping, and eat when you wake up in the middle of the night if you have NES.

Difference between NES and sleep-related eating disorder (SRED)

There is no such thing as sleepwalking or other abnormal sleep behavior (parasomnia) when it comes to NES. People with NES are fully awake while eating, unlike those with sleep-related eating disorders (SRED).

Sleep disturbances can cause people to wake up and eat during the night. When a person has SRED, they eat while they’re sleeping and forget about it the next day.

Night eating syndrome symptoms

After dinner, if you have NES, you consume at least a quarter of your daily calories. You’re both bothered by this truth.

If you have at least three of these symptoms and wake up to eat at least twice a week, you may have NES:

  • In the morning, you don’t feel hungry.
  • Between dinner and bedtime, a strong desire to eat
  • Insomnia 4 or 5 nights a week
  • A notion that eating is required to fall asleep or return to sleep.
  • A sad state of mind that worsens throughout the evening

Binge eating disorder is not the same as night eating syndrome. You’re more inclined to consume a lot in one sitting if you’re on BED. If you have NES, you are more likely to consume smaller portions during the night.

Sleep-related eating disorder is not the same as NES. You’ll remember what you ate the night before with NES.

Read: Purging Disorder

Night eating syndrome causes

It’s unclear. Doctors believe it has something to do with problems with the sleep-wake cycle and hormones. Changes in your sleeping patterns and habits aren’t to blame.

If you’re fat or have another eating disorder, you’re more prone to develop night eating syndrome. People with NES are more likely to have a history of depression, anxiety or drug addiction.

NES affects about 1 of every 100 persons. There’s a 1 in 10 chance you have it if you’re fat.

Genetic reasons

A probable relationship between NES and genetics has been discovered by researchers. A gene called PER1 is considered to have a role in regulating your body clock. NES is thought to be caused by a gene abnormality, according to scientists. More investigation is required.

Check all: Psychological Disorders

What is the process of diagnosis?

After interviewing you about your sleep and eating patterns, your doctor will make a diagnosis of night eating syndrome. A comprehensive questionnaire may be part of this. You may also be subjected to a polysomnography sleep test. It assesses your:

  • Brain waves
  • Blood oxygen levels
  • Heart and breathing rates

Polysomnography is usually performed at a hospital or sleep clinic.

You must overeat at night for at least 3 months to be diagnosed with NES. Substance abuse, a medical illness, medication, or any psychological issue cannot be the cause of the eating and sleeping patterns.

Health effects

Obesity is linked to NES, although it’s unclear if obesity is a cause or a consequence of NES. One thing is certain: the condition makes losing weight difficult. Not all studies have found that having NES causes you to eat more, and not everyone with NES is fat.

Sleep disturbances associated with NES may also lead to weight gain. You’re more prone to gain weight if you don’t get enough sleep.

Read: How to Stop Late Night Eating

Night eating syndrome treatments

Although little research has been done on NES, antidepressants and cognitive behavioral therapy seem helpful. Relaxation training was reported to help shift hunger from night to morning in short research.

Antidepressants were found to improve night eating, mood and quality of life in several trials.

Melatonin or melatonin-boosting medications can also help with NES.

Always consult your doctor before taking any medication.

Interesting facts about night eating syndrome

Researchers are still struggling to understand NES, despite its use by eating disorder professionals. It has been difficult to ascertain a firm understanding of NES due to the many theories surrounding its emergence, prevalence, and cognitions. In light of what has so far been discovered, the following conclusions can be drawn:

  • It has been documented in psychological literature since around 1955 that NES symptoms exist.
  • Patients with other eating disorders are more likely to have NES.
  • Binge eaters who suffer from NES are 15 to 44% more likely to undergo an investigation for NES.
  • Bulimia Nervosa patients experience NES 9 to 47% of the time.
  • An estimated 12.3% of patients in the psychiatric field meet NES criteria.
  • Substance use disorders were present in 30.6% of people with NES.
  • More than one atypical antipsychotic is prescribed to NES patients than to non-NES patients.

Read: 15 Simple Tips to Stop Binge Eating

Is it possible to prevent NES?

There is no way to prevent NES. The following steps will help you to get proper sleep and improve your health:

  • Consuming healthy foods: Home is the only place where you should have healthy foods. You can avoid indulging in high-fat and sugar foods at night by eliminating them.
  • Sleep hygiene is important: Try to sleep at the same time every day, and keep the bedroom at a comfortable temperature. When you are getting ready to go to bed, avoid caffeine and electronics.
  • Maintaining your mental health: Stress can be managed by meditating and breathing deeply. Speak to your provider if you feel anxious or sad. The benefits of counseling and therapy include improving your mood and managing emotions.
  • Maintaining an active lifestyle during the day: Your sleep improves when you exercise and exercise regularly during the day.

Bottom line

You may feel humiliated and hesitant to seek therapy if you are having symptoms that are consistent with night eating syndrome. Please don’t be afraid to get treatment; eating disorder specialists can assist you in your recovery.

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