Eating while sleeping is a rare eating disorder that some specialists also consider to be a sleeping disorder. People who struggle with sleep eating eat in the middle of the night during an episode that is very similar to sleep walking. Many sleep eaters don’t remember their eating binge the next day but find evidence of it in the form of unexplained food wrappers, kitchen messes and stomachaches. Some sleep eaters may be vaguely aware of their nighttime binges but are unable to stop themselves — or even know how to stop their sleep eating.
Sleep eaters are at risk for a variety of consequences, including obesity, accidental injury, and more. Seeking treatment at an eating disorder or sleep disorder facility is the only way many sleep eaters will recover.
Consequences of Eating while Sleeping
Sleep eating is a serious condition that can lead to serious consequences. Some of the consequences of eating while sleeping are:
* Weight gain. Eating while you’re asleep causes you to consume an unknown amount of calories. Many sleep eaters become obese over time.
* Inability to lose weight. Sleep eaters constantly struggle with their weight, because no matter what they do while they’re awake — diet, exercise — they counteract these healthy habits while they’re asleep.
* Shame, embarrassment and guilt. Sleep eaters feel out of control and are often embarrassed by their behavior. This can lead to feelings of shame and guilt that can lead to depression if left untreated.
* Risk of injury. Eating while sleeping can be dangerous. Sleep eaters increase their risk of injury from accidents such as falling down stairs, choking on food, or burning or cutting themselves while cooking in their sleep.
* Medical complications. Sleep eaters face a variety of medical complications, including tooth decay, daytime fatigue, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and more.
Treatment for Eating while Sleeping
In many cases, sleep eating is a sign of an underlying problem. Some sleep eaters have histories of alcoholism, drug abuse or a primary sleep disorder such as sleepwalking, sleep apnea or Restless Legs Syndrome. The first step in treating sleep eating is to consult with a physician or healthcare professional to identify what the root cause of your sleep eating disorder.
Once the underlying issues of your disorder have been identified, you can begin treatment at a facility that specializes in sleep eating disorder and other eating disorders. Treatment will include group or one-on-one counseling with a therapist, stress management courses, cognitive behavior therapy, dual diagnosis and other forms of treatment based on your specific needs. Alternative forms of treatment may also include acupuncture, hypnosis, biofeedback, and more.
If you’re struggling with a sleep eating disorder, seek treatment right away. An Eating disorder treatment facility can help you address the underlying issues causing your disorder and help put you on the road to recovery.