What is night eating syndrome?

Night eating syndrome

Night eating syndrome is a condition in which people eat a large amount of food after the evening meal, often waking up throughout the night to eat. People with this condition may not feel hungry in the morning. They may delay their first meal of the day for many hours.

This pattern of eating cannot be explained by changes in the person's sleep schedule or local social routines (for example, a custom of eating late at night). People with this problem feel upset about their night eating.

People with night eating syndrome also have sleep problems, including difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. People with this problem are more likely to be obese. And depression is common in people who have night eating syndrome.

Treatment may include cognitive-behavioral therapy or antidepressant medicine.

Doctors are not sure what causes night eating syndrome. But some studies show that it may be related to problems with the sleep-wake cycle.

What are the symptoms of night eating syndrome?

People with night eating syndrome do remember eating during the night. They usually do not feel hungry in the early part of the day. They may delay their first meal of the day for many hours. Then later, after the evening meal, they may eat a large amount of food throughout the night.

This pattern of eating cannot be explained by changes in the person's sleep schedule or local social routines (for example, a custom of eating late at night). People with this problem feel upset about their night eating.

People with night eating syndrome also have sleep problems, including difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. People with this problem are more likely to be obese. And depression is common in people who have night eating syndrome.

Night eating syndrome is different from binge eating disorder. People with binge eating disorder usually do not have episodes of binge eating during the night (10 p.m. to 6 a.m.). But if they do, they eat large amounts of food in a single sitting. People with night eating syndrome tend to eat smaller amounts of food many times during the night.

How is night eating syndrome treated?

There is no evidence-based treatment for night eating syndrome. But doctors have seen some success with cognitive-behavioral therapy and with antidepressants.

How is night eating syndrome diagnosed?

To find out if you have night eating syndrome, your doctor will ask questions about your medical history and eating patterns. Night eating syndrome often happens along with sleep problems, so your doctor may want to do tests of your sleep (polysomnography).

How can you care for yourself when you have night eating syndrome?

Take your medicine exactly as prescribed. Go to any counseling sessions you have. Have good sleep habits. Get up and go to bed at the same time. And sleep in a quiet, dark room. Managing your stress may also help. You can try muscle relaxation exercises, staying active, and talking to someone close.

What is night eating syndrome?

Night eating syndrome is a condition in which people eat large amount of food after the evening meal, often waking up during the night to eat. People with this condition may delay their first meal of the day for many hours. And they may feel upset about their night eating.

What causes night eating syndrome?

Doctors are not sure what causes night eating syndrome. But some studies show that it may be related to problems with the sleep-wake cycle and certain hormones.

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