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What is Night Eating Syndrome? Most of us have had the urge to grab a bite to eat in the middle of the night when we can’t sleep, feel worried or just have after-dinner hunger pangs. But when eating in the middle of the night gets out of control, your health may be in danger. Consistently consuming most of your calories between the dinner hour and breakfast time is a warning sign of night eating syndrome, or nocturnal eating syndrome (NES). NES is a serious eating disorder that has been linked with depression, stress, hormonal imbalances and abnormal sleep patterns.
What are the symptoms of Night Eating Syndrome?
How do you know when you’ve crossed the line between after-dark snacking and disordered eating habits? Night eating syndrome is associated with a number of unhealthy behaviors, including:
Health Risks and Complications
NES is a serious eating disorder that can have a negative impact on your diet and your sleeping patterns. Many of those who struggle with this syndrome become overweight or obese as a result of their late-night eating habits, according to Obesity Reviews. Obesity can lead to a number of severe, chronic health complications.
Getting up to eat interrupts your sleep, which could affect your mood, memory and cognitive performance. The loss of sleep can interfere with concentration, increase your risk of accidental injury, and contribute to depression or anxiety disorders. . If you’ve been eating in the middle of the night for more than a week or two, your eating patterns should be evaluated by an eating disorders specialist.
Who gets it?
Night-eating syndrome is believed to occur in 10% of obese people seeking treatment for their obesity, which means about 10 million people may be affected. It also does occur among people of normal weight, although less frequently.
What Causes Night Eating Syndrome?
The specific causes of NES are still under investigation. Both sleep disorders and eating disorders are often related to stress, anxiety and depression, which may interfere with rest and trigger emotional eating. Night eating syndrome has been connected with low levels of the hormones that affect sleep, mood and appetite (melatonin, cortisol, leptin and ghrelin). These hormones help regulate the desire to rest and consume food. People with NES often experience increasing depression and anxiety during the day, which corresponds with their compulsion to overeat. They often crave carbohydrate-rich foods, which may help them feel calmer and more relaxed, at least temporarily.
How to Recover from NES?
Recovering from NES requires a comprehensive approach that encompasses your physical cravings for food, your disrupted sleep habits and the emotional roots of your disorder. A treatment plan for NES includes a specialized multi-disciplinary team. The team can help you at a second stage get back to a normal body weight if you’ve gained weight as a result of NES. With proper treatment, a full and lasting recovery is possible. The ACPN has the only specialized program in the U.A.E. dedicated to the treatment of eating disorders, like Night-Eating Syndrome.
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