Sleep-related eating disorder involves frequent episodes of out-of-control eating and drinking behaviors while in a state of sleep. You may be partially or fully unaware of your behavior while preparing and eating food, with little or no memory of these actions the next morning.
Sleep-related eating disorder can be dangerous because you could injure yourself during food preparation or eat inedible or toxic items. Sleep-related eating disorder can also have an impact on your health due to weight gain and obesity from eating high-carbohydrate and high-fat foods.
Sleep-related eating disorder can be associated with certain medications, eating disorders and other sleep disorders. Addressing these issues often resolves sleep-related eating disorder.
Sleep-related eating disorder is a parasomnia — abnormal activity or behavior that occurs while you’re falling asleep, sleeping or waking up.
Episodes of sleep-related eating disorder occur in the first half of the night after you’ve been sleeping and include:
• Frequent episodes, generally nightly, of eating and drinking in an out-of-control manner
• Impaired consciousness while preparing and eating food
• Little or no memory of these actions the next morning
• Eating high-carbohydrate and high-fat foods or odd combinations of food
• Possibly eating inedible or toxic substances, such as frozen foods, coffee grounds, cleaning solutions or cigarette butts
• Possibly experiencing injuries or engaging in dangerous food preparation activities
• Not being easily awakened or redirected during the episode
• Experiencing a negative impact on your health from the nighttime eating
When to see a doctor
Sleep-related eating disorder can be dangerous and impact your health and safety. If you have any of the symptoms listed above, see your doctor.
A sleep-related eating disorder can result in:
• Dangerous use of kitchen appliances, falls, cuts, burns, choking, injury from eating something inedible or toxic, or eating something you’re allergic to
• Health problems, such as weight gain, poor diabetes control or dental cavities
• Feelings of guilt and helplessness over the lack of control
• Daytime tiredness from disrupted sleep