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What Causes a Sleep Eating Disorder?

Learn what causes a sleep eating disorder from Allegra Broft, M.D. in this Howcast video.


The truth is that we really don't know necessarily the causes for all types of sleep eating disorder problems. But, after a thorough evaluation with a mental health professional or a physician that knows about these types of problems, often certain predisposing factors can be identified.

For example, one thing that can come out of an evaluation for a sleep eating problem is that there could be a medication that a person is taking that makes it more likely for the person to awaken in the middle of the night, become disinhibited, and engage in some of this eating behavior. Actually, there are certain types of sleep medication that have been historically linked to this type of behavior.

That can be one potential cause. I never recommend upon listening to a video like this and thinking about what might be causing your sleep eating problem that you make any sorts of adjustments to your medications without consulting a physician first. But, that can be one potential culprit.

Another type of predisposing factor to certain types of sleep eating problems or night eating problems, night eating syndrome in particular, may be the engagement in dieting behavior during the day. So, if you're restricting your food intake during the day, sometimes there's this real strong drive to do that because a person has eaten a lot of food at night. And there's sort of a compensatory idea of, "Okay, I better not eat much during the day any more, or I feel bloated or not so good so I don't want to eat as much during the day." That can really be a setup for increased hunger drive at night time and can bring out some of the tendency to engage in night eating behavior as a result.

There can be a variety of other types of predisposing factors to some of these sleep eating problems coming out. Things in the range of sleep hygiene problems. A room isn't adequately dark for sleep, for example. In the end there really can be multiple different factors that can be going on in these types of sleep eating problems. Consultation with a professional is really the best way to start to get at the bottom of what is keeping your sleep eating problem going.

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