Night Eating Syndrome – Treatment, Causes, Complications

What is Night Eating Syndrome?

Night eating syndrome is a condition that is considered as new eating disorder. This disorder is basically characterized by the overeating during night time thus causing a decrease in appetite the next morning. This is also associated with insomnia as a person wakes in the night to eat a big snack. This is also considered as nighttime binge eating, making him or her not hungry the next morning. This condition should not be confused with bulimia, for bulimia entails infrequent episodes of binge eating unlike the frequent night eating syndrome.

According to reports, about six million of Americans suffer from night eating syndrome. This newly identified eating disorder has made its way into stardom as it has been a common disorder nowadays. This unhealthy lifestyle has been identified among obese people. About 33 percent of obese individuals are affected of the condition.

Night Eating Disorder Symptoms

Symptoms, Signs & Characteristics

The sufferer is noted to be suffering from night eating disorder, for the obvious intake of high-caloric foods at night, taking about 50% of the total amount of intake in the day. The other associated presenting symptoms of the condition are the following:

  • Having no appetite for breakfast or skipping breakfast is an expected result of eating at night. The loss of appetite can be due to the feeling of fullness or possibly guilt over eating before sleep. Wakefulness in the middle of the night also triggers the need to eat food, making it a reason to induce sleep.
  • Eats less during dinner time but has increased appetite after a while before sleep.
  • There is a tendency that persistence of this habit lasts for months.
  • Food contents are recklessly left on bed.
  • Mixed feelings towards the habit are felt by the patient. Depression is the most prominent emotion felt during this act. Guilt afterwards is also noted among patients.
  • Physical effect: The sufferer shall become obese. This is due to the increase intake of food before sleep time or in the middle of the night.
  • Hormonal imbalance is noted due to the interruption of sleep. The mood regulation is also affected due to this problem.

Causes & Risk factors

The cause for such syndrome is accordingly identified as eating disorder with the compensation from the bouts of depression and anxiety. There is also relation to the body image disturbance for this condition. It is noted that those who are highly dissatisfied to their body image tends to suffer from night eating syndrome. This is known as a triggering factor for the said eating disorder.

This condition is also not considered as just an eating disorder. Night eating disorder is also characterized as a mood disorder along with problems of sleep. Stress and depression is a good triggering factor for night eating syndrome. This turns to be a way of compensation for those with mood disorders, thinking and feeling that food helps them in recuperation. Those who have a prolonged diet regimen that seemed not to work may result to night eating disorder, as this becomes a frustration on the part of the patient.


This can be treated through the following recommended remedies: Awareness of the said condition can assist in treatment. Willingness to work on the problem can give hand in the treatment course.

  • Seeking a medical expert on eating disorders is necessary, most especially when the condition has become uncontrollable. Stages of reaction from the treatment course should be expected from the sufferer, and should be considered as this is part of their coping mechanism. Seeking help for insomnia is also a must for this is also highly influential in night eating syndrome. Provide the client with antidepressants in order to relieve the presenting symptoms.
  • Provide the client the proper amount nutrition that he or she needs. The needs of the patient should be catered accordingly in order to attain proper nutrition and appropriate balance in food consumption. Supplementation such as increasing intake of foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids, calcium and minerals is healthy.
  • Eat breakfast regularly. This can lessen feelings of guilt and can avoid you from the harm of trying night eating syndrome. It is also recommended for a person to have small frequent feedings if one wants to lose weight.


In the long process of the condition, there is a tendency that the client will develop bulimia. This eating disorder is likely to develop because of the tendency of eating high-caloric and high-carbohydrate foods and snacks. When the disorder has not been controlled, night eating syndrome shall not limit to a one time binge eating but also possible that would greatly affect the gastric system.

3 thoughts on “Night Eating Syndrome – Treatment, Causes, Complications

  • 08/09/2017 at 9:56 PM

    Oh my! I have had night eating disorder for years! I thought it was because I take 10 mg of Ambien at night. My doctor just gives me a puzzled look when I tell him about my sleep eating. I get up right before I go to sleep and eat eat eat. Sometimes I don’t remember doing it, then I see food wrappers and dishes etc. I wake up during sleep and get up to eat. I have hurt myself doing this because I bump into things, and sometimes I spill food in and on the bed and floor. Each night I tell myself I am going to stay asleep and not eat, but I always do. I am not hungry during the day either, and I always take whatever food I get back into bed, I never eat it in the kitchen or living room. I’m not fussy what I eat either. Chips, cake, cheese, crackers with butter or whatever. And not just a few crackers, but a whole sleeve of saltines! How do I stop doing this?

  • 08/09/2017 at 10:00 PM

    It’s Melanie again. I’m also on anti depressants. I read that depression and insomnia are two possible reasons for this condition, but I am being treated for both. Help.

  • 28/01/2018 at 5:10 AM

    I’ve also on ambien 10.I have been getting up and eating,sometimes without any memory. I have often wondered if the ambien is causing this. Before the ambien I don’t recall this being a problem. I just don’t know how to stop it. I cant sleep when I try not to take it.


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