Night Eating Syndrome Treatment

Signs and Symptoms

Night Eating Syndrome (NES) is characterised by recurrent, late-night binge-eating episodes. Sufferers consume approximately 25% of their calories after dinner, usually later than 9 or 10pm, while all food is not necessarily eaten at once, but there can be several separate episodes in one night. Eating is experienced as being out-of-control and the individual cannot sleep unless they eat. NES sufferers tend to skip breakfast and eat their first meal many hours after waking in the morning. Just like in BED (Binge Eating Disorder), binges are typically rich in carbohydrates, which is justifiable, as carbohydrate consumption increases the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter which induces relaxation and sleep. Due to its dual nature as a food and sleep disturbance, NES is considered a sleep-related eating disorder, as well as a sleep-stress disorder.


Differentiation between NES and other types of eating disorders; the role of neuroendocrine imbalances

There are a few elements that distinguish NES from the other eating disorders. Firstly, even though NES sufferers have weight issues and are concerned about their eating habits, they are generally less preoccupied with food, weight and body than sufferers of the other eating disorders categories. Furthermore, even though binge-eating in NES is a response to stress and anxiety, there are no specific emotional triggers, such as in BED for example. Lastly, research has shown that there are consistent neuro-endocrine patterns found in people suffering from NES, such as lower melatonin levels (a hormone that participates in the regulation of the sleep/wake cycle), flawed cortisol response (response to stress), failure of leptin to suppress orexin  -leptin is a hormone that regulates appetite and metabolism, and requires sufficient restful, uninterrupted sleep to be released, whereas orexin is a neurotransmitter which increases appetite,wakefulness and arousal. Orexin normally gets regulated and inhibited by leptin; in NES, however, as a result of sleep deprivation and disruption, not enough leptin gets released, which leads to further insomnia and excess hunger.


Recovery is possible - Steps to healing

It is very common for NES to exist along with another disorder and it is worth noting that around 25% of obese people suffer from both NES and BED. Nevertheless, recovery is possible, as the body's self-healing powers are extraordinary, when the appropriate kind of multidisciplinary, multidimensional support is provided.The first priority, when working with NES, is to normalise both the sleeping and eating patterns of the individual, through nutritional interventions, always in collaboration with one's GP, as well as through behavioural techniques. At the same time, we are exploring more effective and wholesome ways to deal with stress and anxiety, and addressing any underlying issues that have led to the development of the disorder. 

If you think that you are suffering from Night Eating Syndrome and are ready to take the first step towards recovery, health and well-being, or if you feel ambivalent about reaching out, or would like to discuss any concerns regarding your challenges and how I could be of help, please call me on 07450256556 or contact me through the form below. 

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