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Sleep-related eating disorders – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Overview

In sleep-related eating disorders, you suffer from uncontrollable eating and drinking while you are asleep. You may or may not be fully aware of your eating habits in your state of sleep, and you may not necessarily remember these actions after you wake up. Sleep-related eating disorders are linked with some medications or other kinds of sleeping disorders.

Sleep-related eating disorders can be particularly harmful. You may consume something inedible or drink toxic fluids impacting your health and could even lead to life-threatening situations. It could also have a significant impact on your weight. It could turn out to be a prime cause of obesity and other health-related issues.

A sleep-related eating disorder is an abnormal activity that happens while you are asleep or half asleep. The symptoms include:

  • Uncontrollable eating during nights, especially when you are sleeping or partially asleep
  • Diminished consciousness while eating.
  • Forgetting about the abnormal behavior by morning 
  • Eating unhealthy food that is high in fats and drinking highly carbonated drinks 
  • Consuming inedible items or even toxic substances
  • Not being able to wake up while eating
  • Change in eating habits 
  • Drastic weight changes

Sleep-related eating disorders usually occur for unknown reasons. However, the below reasons are the primary causes:

  • Certain types of medications. 
  • Stress, anxiety, and depression
  • People with sleepwalking habits are more susceptible to eating disorders during sleeping too. 
  • Sleep apnea: Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that interrupts breathing functions. 
  • Other kinds of eating disorders such as bulimia
  • Traumatic events can also induce this disorder

When to visit a doctor?

As much as it seems like a simple issue, it is not. A sleep-related eating disorder can turn out to be fatal and shows severe repercussions on your health

  • If your eating habits changed.
  • If you are eating while sleeping.
  • If consciousness gets impeded while eating.
  • Unexplained weight gain. 
  • If you cannot wake up while eating.

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Women, teenagers, and people in their early 20s are more susceptible to sleep-related eating disorders. The following can be the risk factors of this condition:

  • Various kinds of sleeping disorders like sleep apnea, narcolepsy, restless legs syndrome, and sleepwalking can increase the risk of sleep-related eating disorders.
  • Certain medications like Zolpidem and other antidepressants and antipsychotics can also cause eating disorders. 
  • Other eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia can trigger sleep-related eating disorders.
  • Stress, anxiety, or depression
  • Hereditary: It can be inherited  from first-degree relatives as well.
  • Sleep deprivation.

Lack of treatment or negligence of sleep-related eating disorder can cause the following complications:

  • Consumptions of toxic and inedible items can turn out to be fatal.
  • Uncontrolled weight gain and dental cavities.
  • It can trigger diabetes or make the situation worse for people already having diabetes.
  • Fatigue from a disturbed sleep cycle. 
  • Long-term health impacts.

Conclusion

Sleep-related eating disorders can hinder the lifestyle and mental peace of the patients. Hence, a night’s  stay in the sleep lab is recommended to understand the persons’ habits, and appropriate medications are  prescribed. Treatment to mitigate stress and depression also addresses eating disorders if you are diagnosed with any mental health issues.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

No. consumption of sleeping pills may further aggravate the problem. However, you can consult your doctor to seek medical assistance whether or not to eat sleeping pills.

If you observe any changes in your body, eating habits, and sleeping habits, ask your near ones to keep an eye on you during the nights. If you are eating or indulging in abnormal behavior while asleep, you can convey this to the doctor to help  diagnose your condition.

Will It impact my digestive habits?

Yes. Frequent and untimely eating will have an impact on your digestive habits. If your stomach feels full or cannot digest the morning breakfast, seek medical assistance and get your condition diagnosed.

Long-term negligence can lead to consuming toxic food items or inedible items that can even lead to death. Uncontrolled eating can cause increased fat, obesity, and thus, heart-related issues.

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