Sleep-related Eating Disorder: Causes, Symptoms, Risks & Treatment

Sleep-related Eating Disorder: Causes, Symptoms, Risks & Treatment

Are you experiencing abnormal eating patterns at night?

Has your partner ever warned about your nocturnal sleep-related behaviour that you don't remember the following day?

While Sleep-Related Eating Disorder is not so common, it is again a parasomnia that makes you eat after falling asleep. 

It may occur during sleepwalking and is even associated with Restless Leg Syndrom (RLS).

This blog post will discuss what Sleep-Related Eating Disorder is and how to recognize it. We will also provide some tips on how to treat it.

What Is Sleep-Related Eating Disorder?

A sleep-related eating disorder is an abnormal behaviour that occurs when someone prepares and eats food while asleep. People with this condition often forget about what they ate. 

This disorder can be caused by medication. It can also occur in people with other sleep disorders, such as Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS). People with this condition can sometimes eat non-food substances, such as poisons or cleaning chemicals. 

These substances can cause serious health problems if consumed. Sleep-related eating disorder (SRED) is treated by stopping the medication that causes it. 

Healthcare providers may also prescribe medications to help you sleep better. It would help if you discussed any concerns about your treatment options with your healthcare provider.

A sleep-related eating disorder is when someone prepares and eats food while asleep. It can cause them to burn themselves during the cooking process. 

People with this condition also eat things that are not food, such as soap, glue, or even toothpaste. This can be very dangerous, as some of these items can be poisonous.

It is treated by stopping medications that cause SRED. Medications to treat other sleep disorders may be prescribed by healthcare providers. Lifestyle changes may help you better manage your sleep.

Sleep-related Eating Disorder

Types of sleep-related eating disorders

There are two types of SRESD: 

  • Drug-induced SRED results when you take medication to help you sleep. Drug-induced SRED effects from certain medicines, like medication for treating sleep disorders.
  • A primary sleep-related eating disorder occurs when you encounter trouble sleeping. 

Primary SRED is a condition that affects those with other sleep conditions. This kind of SRED is not a result of the use of drugs. However, sedatives and other medications can make the primary SRED more severe.

Using sedatives or other drugs may worsen this condition. SRED is not related to night eating syndrome. People with NES eat while awake and remember eating in the morning. People with SRED eat while awake but don't remember what they ate.

Yes, SERD is not similar to the night-eating syndrome (NES). 

What are the causes of SERD?

Drug-induced SRED results from the sedative and hypnotic medications to treat insomnia, particularly Zolpidem (Ambien(r)). 

These medications slow down the brain's activity and help you sleep and remain asleep. Specific antipsychotic or antidepressant drugs can cause SRED as well.

Because they alter the brain's activity, these drugs may make some people do things while asleep. They might cook food, eat uncontrollably, drive around in a car, or even have sex. In most cases, people forget about these things after they get up.

Experts aren't sure of the precise cause of primary SRED. However, those with primary SRED usually have other sleep issues like sleepwalking or the syndrome of restless legs. 

Sleep disorders are common in families. You are more likely to suffer from SRED If you or one member of your family has a sleeping disorder.

Problems and symptoms of SRED

A sleep-related eating disorder occurs when a person consumes massive quantities of food during sleep.

The people who suffer from this disorder usually don't remember what happened during these moments. The episodes are typically triggered by anxiety, stress or depression.

Injuries from accidents If you're asleep or asleep during the episodes, you might burn or cut yourself. You could also ignite a fire or turn the oven on too fast during cooking.

Health effects: Many people with'SRED suffer from depression, weight gain fatigue, and various health issues.

People suffering from this disorder typically have an antecedent of anxiety or depression. People with sleep eating disorders often eat strange things in bed while sleeping. They may eat or drink inedible and toxic substances. 

They may injure themselves by eating or drinking something that isn't safe. 

Their health also declines because of this disorder. This disorder disturbs your sleep and also causes insomnia. You may also feel a loss of appetite for the following day. 

Problems and symptoms

Risk factors

Seed is a disorder that affects many women. It usually starts around the age of 20 and lasts throughout adulthood. 

People who suffer from SRED typically have some form of sleep disturbance. Most commonly, these disturbances involve sleepwalking or other forms of sleep behaviour disorder. 

Some people also experience sleep paralysis, nightmares, and vivid dreams. SERD can also result from certain medications used to cure various illnesses such as sleep disorders and depression.

People with SRED have a high chance of having other sleep disorders. They're more likely to be affected by stress, anxiety, or depression. They might also suffer from snoring, obstructive sleep apnea, or narcolepsy. 

Take any medication prescribed by your doctor. Don't take other medicines unless specifically directed by your doctor.

Some of the closely related sleep disorders are (Teeth grinding):

  • Sleep Apnea
  • Restless legs Syndrome
  • Sleep-related dissociative disorders
  • Irregular Sleep-wake Rhythm
  • Periodic Limb Movement Disorder

When do sleep-eating episodes happen?

Sleep-related eating disorders are non-rapid eye movements (NREM) and sleeping disorders . Sleep eating typically occurs in the initial few hours of sleep. 

The most frequent episodes occur during the transition period between one sleep cycle into the following.

In the course of an episode, those who suffer from SRED can appear disoriented or be in an altered state. It's not always easy or possible to get them back up.

How is SRED diagnosed?

Seed can cause severe problems if you don't take care of yourself. You must see a sleep doctor who will ask about your eating binges.

It would help if you told them about the frequency of these binges and how long they last before each binge occurs. You must give them your complete medical history, including any previous drug and medication use.

Sleep disorders include insomnia, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, etc. 

A sleep study is needed to diagnose these conditions. Your doctor should ask you if you have any family history of these disorders. 

You may want to complete a sleep diary or a sleep study. These tests will give your doctor information about your sleep habits .

Treatment and help

Security measures must be taken before everything else. Locks for cabinet doors and kitchen doors as well as safe knife storage are essential. Take a good amount of rest each day. 

The frequency of sleep deprivation can increase. Your doctor might have to alter certain medications.

Particularly if you're on medicines for sleep disorders like sleep apnea. You'll need to be treated for it. 

Doctors who treat sleep disorders should find out if you have an additional sleep disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea.

If it is, you'll also need treatment for that. It will make it easier to manage the SRED. SREDs tend to respond well to the medication. Your doctor may maintain a sleep diary to keep a record of your sleep progress.

Treatment and help

Who Gets Sleep-Related Eating Disorders?

Sleeping disorders are found to be more common among women as compared to men. 1% of people are expected to have NES whole 5% have a problem with NS-RED. 

Most people suffering from this type of disorder are on a diet during the day. It makes them feel hungry and persuades them to binge eat at night. 

People with this type of sleep-related disorder may also have a history of drug abuse, other sleep disorder, or alcoholism.


Is it possible to eat while you're sleeping?

Sleep-Related Eating Disorder is a type of parasomnia in which people prepare and eat food while sleeping . As they eat when they are asleep, they have no such memory of eating the following day. 

This disorder is not as common as sleepwalking, but around 1% of people suffer from Nocturnal eating disorder, also known as a sleep-related disorder. 

How can sleeping and eating disorders be interrelated?

The behaviours associated with eating disorders, such as extreme exercise or purging, can cause changes in sleeping patterns or usually hamper the ability to rest. 

The disruption of the circadian rhythm may cause night eating syndrome and could also be associated with abnormal eating patterns in other diseases.

Is sleep-eating genetic?

Studies suggest that people who are stricken at night with an insatiable appetite might have genes. Night-eating syndrome could be a sign that the genes responsible for synchronizing eating habits with sleep are defective, studies on mice found


SRED can be triggered in persons sleeping in the middle of the night, just like sleepwalking and other sleep disorders. Sleeping-eating is a type of sleep-eating that occurs during the night. 

Fatty or heavy foods may cause bloating and stomach pain that can keep you tossing and turning. Also, spicy foods that cause heartburn or indigestion can disturb your night's sleep.

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