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Nocturnal Eating Disorder: A Rare Kind of Eating Disorder?

Aug 18, 2007
Sleep eating syndrome (called Nocturnal Eating Disorder, or NED) is a type of sleeping disorder in which the patient eats while clinically asleep. As a result of unconscious sleep eating, the patient often consumes extra calories and gains weight. In many cases, the type of food consumed during night eating is junk food, exacerbating the health problems associated with this sleeping disorder. This article will discuss nocturnal eating disorder: how to diagnose it, and what to do about it.

Because of a lack of judgment on the part of someone suffering from NED, the person may eat too much of what tends to be fat or sugar-rich junk food. This can lead to obesity. Another prominent risk of nocturnal eating disorder is the possibility of the patient cooking while asleep. The patient is not aware of cooking with fire, heat or sharp utensils.

Is nocturnal eating disorder considered to be an eating disorder? Technically, this eating disorder is not an eating disorder, but rather it is classified as a sleep disorder.

What can you do if you suspect that you or someone you know suffers from nocturnal eating disorder? The most important thing is to get an accurate diagnosis. Visit your doctor so that they will conduct a physical examination and take note of all your symptoms. Your doctor may order you to spend a night in a sleep lab.

Once the doctor diagnoses NED, there are many treatment options available for this problem. Physicians recommend that patients follow several preventative measures in order to keep nocturnal eating sessions at bay. Here are some of the most helpful tips for anyone who might be suffering from NED; Exercise has been proven to be beneficial for victims of nocturnal eating disorder. Even just a few minutes of movement and exercise each day can make a significant difference. Easy exercises that you can try include walking, bicycling, and dancing. Making just a few simple changes in your everyday routine can help you become more active. Try parking further away from the store when you go shopping, and take the stairs instead of the elevator. Try to get in all your exercise in the morning. If you exercise in the evening, it might interfere with your ability to fall asleep.

Avoid caffeine and other stimulating substances. Don't drink coffee; consume chocolate, soda, or other caffeinated or sugar-rich drinks near bedtime. Also, avoid any medications that you know interfere with your normal sleeping pattern. Many over the counter and prescription medications can interrupt with your sleeping pattern. Also, alcohol and nicotine can make it difficult for you to fall asleep. Instead of consuming anything that may be stimulating, drink warm milk instead.

Take a warm bath before bedtime. A warm bath can be relaxing and signals the body that it's time to wind down for the day. However, showers should be avoided right before bedtime, as these can be stimulating.

Consult your health professional for medications that can help. Nocturnal eating disorder can be helped through the use of specific medications. These include medications such as anti-depressants, including the drug Wellbutrin. Certain anti-seizure medications have also proven beneficial for counteracting the symptoms of NED. However, sedatives should be avoided; these can worsen the condition.
About the Author
Scott Meyers is a staff writer for Its Entirely Natural, a resource for helping you achieve a naturally healthy body, mind, and spirit. You may contact our writers through the web site. Follow this link for more information on Eating Disorders.
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