Written by Dr. Anitha Paderla, MBBS | 
Medically Reviewed by dr. reeja tharu / dr. sunil shroff, MBBS, MS, FRCS (UK), D. Urol (Lond) on May 06, 2014

Sleep Eating Disorders - Symptoms

A sleep eater will roam the house and may eat large quantities of food. They are at risk of injury to themselves during sleep-walking

Symptoms of Nocturnal Sleep-Related Eating Disorder (NS-RED) are mentioned below:

  • Sleep eaters are unaware and unconscious of their eating behavior at night.
  • During a sleep eating event, the victim may walk around the house ransack the kitchen and consume huge helpings of food.
  • Sleep eaters cannot recall the sleep–eating event the next morning.
  • Sleep eaters show a preference for foods laden with fat or sugars during their sleep eating event.
  • Strangely, sleep eating disorder victims go for those foods (in sleep) which they would avoid during their waking hours
  • Consumption of odd combinations of foods, such as potato chips dipped in peanut butter or butter smeared on hotdogs, is common
  • Consumption of non-food items, have also been reported.

Individuals who suffer from NS-RED are at risk for self-injury during an episode. They may experience excessive daytime sleepiness, and are usually emotionally distressed, tired, angry, or anxious.

Risks related to NS-RED include the following:

  • Eating strange forms or combinations of food, such as raw bacon, buttered or ground coffee
  • Consuming toxic substances, such as cleaning solutions
  • Eating foods to which the person is allergic
  • Suffering from insomnia due to sleep disruption
  • Sleep-related injury
  • Potential of catching fire while cooking
  • Loss of appetite in the morning
  • Stomach pains
  • High cholesterol
  • Excessive weight gain and obesity

Common concerns include excessive weight gain, daytime sleepiness, choking while eating, sleep disruption, and injury from cooking or preparing food such as from knives, utensils, or hot cooking surfaces.

Night Eating Syndrome (NES) is different from Nocturnal Sleep-Related Eating Disorder (NS-RED) in that people are conscious during the episodes of nocturnal eating.

Symptoms of NES include the following and often persist for at least two months:

  • Reduced or negligible appetite for breakfast.
  • Tendency to binge on food post dinner compared to the quantity consumed during the meal
  • Consuming more than 50% of the daily food intake, in the period following dinner
  • Losing sleep periodically due to food cravings, and requiring food to fall asleep.


Holy50 Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I have been sleep eating for years and want help. I have gone to my doctor and he did not take serously. He did give me some sleeping pill. The pill made it worse. I would like to know what others are doing for help with this disorder. Thank you Janet Ontario, Canada

Gauravsharma10 Monday, April 26, 2010

Good writeup on Sleep eating disorder or night eating disorder. This is caused by the craving of the food in the body at odd intervals.
You can check out healandhealth to know what are the feasible solutions apart from making restraints in the food.

vasanth Monday, April 2, 2007

Good article on sleep eating disorders

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