The Truth About Sleep-Eating
Some people laughingly joke that they must eat in their sleep—that’s the only way they can explain their inability to lose weight. But while this is often a joke, it’s actually a documented disorder: people do eat in their sleep! While sleepwalking is much more common, some people do actually get up, walk to the kitchen, make food, and eat it, all without remembering a thing the next day. This disorder is officially called NS-RED, for Nocturnal Sleep Related Eating Disorder. If you have it, you may actually be at risk for a number of different health issues that come from overeating and being overweight.
NS-RED is similar to another eating disorder called Night Eating Syndrome, or NES. If you have this disorder, you’re fully awake when you get up to eat, but you don’t feel like you can go back to sleep without eating something. It can be very difficult to force yourself back to bed, and even if you do lay back down, you’ll often be unable to go back to sleep without eating something. The biggest difference between the two disorders is that those who suffer from NES are aware of what they’re doing. Both, however, are considered sleep disorders and both can greatly affect a person’s nutrition and weight.
Some Symptoms of NES and NS-RED
If you have any of these symptoms and they persist for weeks or months at a time, you may have either NES or NS-RED:
• You’re never hungry in the morning.
• You eat a lot of food in the late evening/early night than you do at dinner.
• More than half of all the food you eat in a day is eaten later at night.
• You often wake up in the middle of the night feeling hungry or get up to eat a snack.
Note that both of these sleep disorders can affect women and men, but statistically, more women suffer from them. About five percent of people have NES or NS-RED. Those with one of these disorders are also more likely to develop other eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia. Many people with NES/NS-RED will start dieting and denying themselves food, which only leads to bigger binges at night. It’s also possible those with NES or NS-RED will also suffer from other types of sleep disorders, alcoholism, or drug abuse.
Treating NES and NS-RED
It can be difficult to treat these sleep disorders, especially if you aren’t sure you actually have one. That’s why most doctors will start with having you do an overnight sleep study at a lab. If it is determined that you have NS-RED or NES, you may be given some medication to help with them. However, don’t try to self-medicate with sleep aids. These pills rarely work and often simply lead to confusion and can make you stumble and hurt yourself in the night.
Other techniques may include medication and other stress-relief methods, counseling to determine if there is an underlying cause to your sleep disorder, and a change in diet. Limiting the amount of caffeine and alcohol you currently ingest can also help.
You may also want to start taking an acai berry supplement. Research has shown that a supplement such as the acai berry may be able to provide you with a number of benefits.
These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, or cure any diseases.