A woman, who sleepwalks, has put on nine stone as she has unknowingly been snacking nightly.
Anna Ryan, 42, who was consuming over 2,000 calories of food without realizing, suffers from a condition, which makes her gorge herself while asleep with catastrophic effects on her size and health.
AdvertisementRyan had been following a low-fat diet and exercising regularly, but her weight has been fluctuating wildly since her early 20s, and she has had to keep clothes in four different sizes.
Her weight problem mystified her until two years ago when she was diagnosed with Sleep Related Eating Disorder (SRED), which causes her to walk to the kitchen and eat while sound asleep.
In an unconscious state, Ryan, from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA, who runs a garden centre with her husband Kenny, gorges on chocolate, cheese, meat, butter and anything she can get her hands on.
It means she has no control over her weight and as a result she weighs 19 stone and suffers from high blood pressure.
"My sleep eating is putting my life at risk," the Telegraph quoted her as saying."I've tried everything to stop me getting my hands on food but nothing works," she said, recalling that she had first started putting on weight in her early 20s.
"Until then I'd always been a size 10 to 12 and weighed 10 stone.
"I started being careful with my diet and exercising five times a week but it didn't make a difference.
"I was convinced there was a problem because I'd wake up feeling exhausted and nauseous and would never be able to stomach breakfast. But my doctor couldn't find anything wrong. It was very frustrating," she said.
In the last six years her weight has fluctuated uncontrollably, and at one point she gained three stone in just two months.
"I tried limiting myself to 1,200 calories a day," she revealed.
"I'd have low sugar cereal for breakfast, a diet milkshake or salad for lunch, and a healthy dinner but the weight still piled on," she said.
The mystery was only uncovered when one morning she woke to find food in the bed and a mess in the kitchen.
"There was broken biscuits in the sheets and all over my face," she recalled.
"The kitchen was like a bomb had hit it and I realized I must have eaten in my sleep. I felt terrified. I couldn't remember anything at all," she stated.
She then visited her GP, who referred to her sleep specialist, Dr Scott Eveloff who then diagnosed her with SRED.
"Anna was diagnosed with SRED in November 2007, by both myself and my colleague. She displayed classic symptoms - unexplained weight fluctuations and her past sleep walking and heavy sleeping patterns were indicators," Dr Eveloff said.
Soon after Dr Eveloff made his diagnosis Ryan took part in a sleep study where night vision cameras monitored her nocturnal activities. She was visiting the kitchen up to eight times a night and eating over 2,000 calories.
"I look like a zombie - I'd bypass the fruit bowl and go straight for the snack bars and sugary treats like cream cakes and snack bars," she said.
Dr Eveloff believes his patient may have been eating in her sleep since her early 20s even though her husband Kenny, 45, a very heavy sleeper, never once woke to catch her in the act.
"I'd noticed that the food would disappear quickly in the house but I always thought it was Kenny and never questioned him about it," she said.
"I've since tried not keeping any food in the fridge except the basic essentials like cooking oil and sauces but that didn't work because I'd eat whatever was there.
"We've also locked the bedroom door, but I'd either unlock it or end up hurting myself trying. I've given myself two black eyes and knocked a tooth out trying to get to the kitchen," she revealed.
Ryan now weighs 19st but is hoping a new course of medication can put an end to her sleep eating habits.
"Dr Eveloff is trying me on some new medication which is making me get up a bit less," she said.
"It's embarrassing - people don't always believe you, or they think it's funny. But for me it's been a nightmare," she added.
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