NIGHT EATING SYNDROME – (AN OVERALL VIEW)


This article is a detailed overview of night eating syndrome and discusses some pertinent aspects related to this disorder.

Also, this article reveals possible symptoms, diagnostic aspects and possible treatments that offers insight into this problem.

WHAT IS NIGHT EATING SYNDROME?

A Night Eating Syndrome is a situation in which the person affected wakes up feels like eating in the middle of the night and faces problems while sleeping at night time too.

If you have night eating syndrome, then you will feel like eating a lot after dinner.

You have some urge in the middle of the night to get up and eat loads of food.

If you have Night Eating Syndrome, then you will eat almost one-fourth calories of your daily meals after dinner.

This habit can be classified as overeating. If a person wakes up twice or thrice times a week for binge eating then they must be suffering from Night Eating Syndrome. 

If you do not feel hungry in the morning, have trouble sleeping at night, have a feeling that eating you will only be able to sleep if you eat a lot of food and if you feel depressed or are in a bad mood in the evening hours, then that means you have Night Eating Syndrome. 

Night Eating Syndrome can be caused by many reasons as the causes have not been cleared out yet.

Eating disorders are found to be the leading causes of obesity in people.

There is a chance that Night Eating Syndrome might be genetic too. 

HOW DO YOU GET RID OF NIGHT EATING SYNDROME?

Night Eating Syndrome has become very common these days, especially in kids in their teens.

Some of them are getting tired of their situation and want a cure for their eating disorder.

After research and consultations, medical experts have found out that there are a few ways in which we can cure Night Eating Syndrome.

The way of treatment might be hard but not impossible at all.

The first way is to find the reason why you feel like waking up from sleep in the middle of the night and eat food.

This can be a result of the way you eat food throughout your day o0r your eating pattern.

If you have a restricted intake of food during the day then you must feel hungry at night. 

Another way to fix a Night Eating Syndrome is to make a routine of food intake throughout the day.

If you manage the number of calories of your food then you might be able to get enough calories throughout the day and would not have an urge to eat in the middle of the night. 

An NES can also be treated by seeking professional help, which can help you get rid of your negative thoughts.

These are the thoughts that might be the reason behind you being hungry at midnight.

Another way of the many ways to cure Night Eating Syndrome is to try to release the stress and anxiety out of your body.

In that way, you will be able to eat normally.

These are some of the ways to get rid of a Night Eating Syndrome. 

WHY AM I NOT HUNGRY IN THE MORNING BUT STARVING AT NIGHT?

Most people suffering from Night Eating Syndrome ask the question of why are they not hungry in the morning, but they are starving at night.

There are many reasons as the answer to this question.

Hunger is a feeling we get when our body does not have enough nutrients. 

Like if we have eaten in the middle of night then that means that our body has received the nutrients it needed and that results in the person suffering not feeling hungry in the morning when they wake up but when they go on with their day and use up their energy they get hungry a few hours after they wake up.

Then they starve in the middle of the night. All this happens because their eating cycle gets distorted due to binge eating in the middle of the night. 

Another reason for this can be stressful. In the morning, when most people are on their way to work or school, they feel a lot of stress, and the stress distracts them, and they do not feel hungry in the morning.

At night, when they are done with everything and feel relaxed, stress releases itself making them want to eat something in the middle of the night which causes Night Eating Syndrome.

Some issues with your hormones can also change the way you eat, so that might also be the reason why you are not able to eat in the morning but starve at night. 

WHY DO I GET HUNGRY BEFORE BED? 

People who have Night Eating Syndrome only get hungry before they are about to sleep.

They do not feel like eating throughout the whole day, especially in the morning but they get really hungry right before they are about to go to sleep.

This pattern might be the cause of you not getting enough nutrients throughout your day.

During the day, most people are so busy or stressed doing their busy routines, and they forget to care about how much nutrients they are receiving from their meals throughout the day. 

What they do not know is that this lack of interest is the reason why every day they go to bed they get hungry and feel like eating which is not healthy at all.

This hunger happens at bedtime because that is the time when most people are relaxed and stress-free.

They do not have much on their minds, so their body alarms them to get the nutrients they did not get through the day at that time.

The main reason why patients with Night Eating Syndrome might feel hungry only at night time because that is the only time of the day when they feel stress-free because if they were stress-free throughout the whole day then they would not be suffering from the eating disorder.

Another common reason for being hungry right before sleeping might be that you are just bored and have nothing to do, so you might consider eating in the middle of the night amusing and a way to kill your boredom. 

WHAT IS IT CALLED WHEN YOU EAT ONLY AT NIGHT?

Most people nowadays, especially teenagers eat only at night due to certain reasons, and this is because they have a kind of eating disorder called Night Eating Syndrome.

Night Eating Syndrome or NES is one of the different types of eating disorders. 

In this, the patient feels like eating nothing all day and only feels hungry at night to get their required nutrients of the day.

If this happens more than once in a week then you have Night Eating Syndrome.

The person suffering from NES usually tries to receive one-fourth of the calories of their daily meals at night.

If you have NES, you do not feel hungry in the morning or throughout the day because abnormal eating has changed the way your stomach works.

Your stomach will get used to getting all of its required nutrients in the middle of the night or after dinner so you would not feel hungry throughout the day. 

Night Eating Syndrome is common in most overweight people and this abnormal eating of unhealthy food in the middle of the night is in no way good for them.

If you have this disorder, then you must face difficulties in sleeping at night. 

Sleeping with eating would be hard for you, you might get depressed, and the only way to get out of that depression is eating food in an unhealthy manner.

Or you could be just passing your boring time by eating food, which might seem the only way at that moment to get rid of your boredom, but in reality, it can cause you to have an eating disorder called Night Eating Syndrome. 

WHAT CAN I EAT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT?

Many people suffering from Night Eating Syndrome get tired of their disorder at some point and want a solution.

Finding and implementing a solution can be hard for some time, so what they can do is that they should change the food they eat at night and replace it with healthy food that will not harm their bodies. 

Eating at night is bad, but eating unhealthy is even worse.

It is so because our bodies process food better when we are awake and working around.

While we are asleep our body does not process the food we have just eaten properly.

This indigestion can be very dangerous and to fix this, and one should change their night time snacks with healthy food that will get processed quickly and give a good amount of nutrients to the body.

Foods like ramen noodles or foods with flour take the longest to get digested by our stomach, so if we sleep right away after eating a bowl of Ramen then our body would not be able to digest it properly. 

We should eat healthy food items like fruits, nuts, yogurt, whole-grain cereal, hard-boiled eggs, etc. So basically, food items that contain less oil, spices, and fasts must be our first choices when we feel the urge to eat in the middle of the night.

In this way, we can not only resolve our problem by eating healthy food items but also provide our body with the necessary nutrients that are not present in the unhealthy food that we mostly eat during the night. 

Some informative resources

  1. Binge Eating at Night: How to Overcome Night Eating Syndrome (Eating Disorders) (Volume 6)
  2. Night Eating Syndrome: Why You Eat to Fall Asleep & 30 Day Food Journal (2 manuscripts in 1) (Eating Disorders) (Volume 8)
  3. Overcoming Night Eating Syndrome: A Step-by-step Guide to Breaking the Cycle
  4. Night Eating Syndrome: Research, Assessment, and Treatment
  5. The Mindful Eating Workbook: Simple Mindfulness Practices to Nurture a Healthy Relationship with Food

Conclusion

Most teenagers prefer to eat at night, but the question is that is this even healthy?

The answer is no, eating after a certain time is not healthy for the body.

If we sleep right after eating something then our body would not be able to break down the carbohydrates or fats, and they will get added to the glycogen stores.

This storage of carbs or fats can cause the person eating to gain weight as time passes. 

Sleeping right after you have eaten something is the most unhealthy way of eating food because our body would not be able to break down some of the nutrients present in that certain food, which can lead to certain health issues and can make the person eating more than usual get sick at some point.

The food in our body gets differently at different times of the day.

This difference might be because of the different temperatures of the body, physical activity, hormones, etc.

Food is broken down at different times in different ways. 

Most studies have shown that people who eat their important meals of the day after 3 p.m. tend to lose weight as compared to those who eat at midnight.

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Hence, eating in the middle of the night is indeed bad for one’s as it makes them gain weight, and they suffer from different diseases due to the gain in weight. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is night eating syndrome?

Night eating syndrome is recognized as an eating disorder and is marked by a disturbed (markedly delayed) circadian rhythm for food consumption. 

Q2. How do you get rid of night eating syndrome?

When you are trying to cope with night eating syndrome, adopting some predefined strategies may help tremendously.

You may try to space your meals (may be smaller meals and more frequent) through the day.

Consider your night routine carefully and then re-establish a healthy one.

You may also want to add some focused interventions such as limiting exposure to bright light in the evening hours and increasing the exposure during morning.

Q3. Why do I wake up in the middle of the night and eat?

According to statistics, about 3% individuals would have one of the eating disorders (nocturnal imbalance).

These individuals are most likely to indulge in nighttime eating due to an overpowering urge to eat. 

Q4. Is night eating bad for you?

According to research, eating at late hours may not be a healthy habit.

This is because the body tends to store the calories as fats and metabolic rate slows down during the night thus weight gain vulnerability increases substantially.

Q5. What should I eat if I am hungry at night?

In case you feel an uncontrollable desire to eat something late at night, go for the healthier options (something less than 200 calories), such as kiwi, goji berries, pistachios, bananas, crackers, cereal etc. 

Q6. Is night eating syndrome same as binge eating?

No, night eating syndrome isn’t binge eating disorder, however, there is a comorbid prevalence of both. 

What we recommend for eating disorders

Professional counselling

If you are suffering from an eating disorder then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.

References

  1. What is night eating syndrome?
  2. Eating disorder – Night eating syndrome
  3. Detailed information about night eating syndrome
  4. Definition, prevalence and characteristics of night eating syndrome
  5. Night eating syndrome: Diagnostic and treatment considerations

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