There is a close relationship between proper sleep and eating disorders. In fact, many people are diagnosed with a number of sleep-related eating disorders. Usually, these types of disorders are characterized by the abnormal eating patterns of a person at night. Two of the most common type of sleep-related eating disorders are NS-RED and NES. In the case of Nocturnal Sleep-Related Eating Disorder (NS-RED) patients, they will be unaware of their binge eating episodes, unlike those who suffer from regular eating disorders. One of the main symptoms in this case is that the patients tend to eat food unconsciously during their sleep; such people often sleepwalk to the kitchen and eat food. So, people suffering from regular NS-RED symptoms, are more likely to gain weight. Additionally, the chances of developing type-two diabetes are more in such people.
Another type of sleep-related eating disorder is Night Eating Syndrome (NES). It is characterized by the binge eating of a person at night with complete awareness. In this case, the sufferers will not be able to sleep well unless they eat. The recurrent awakenings from sleep and the necessity of eating food in order to sleep back is one of the main symptoms of NES. Other than this, no appetite for breakfast and eating more food post-dinner are also some of the common symptoms that point towards NES.
The Relationship between Sleep and Disordered Eating in Obese People
There are many biological responses that get triggered in the body of a person if he is deprived of a proper sleep. Normally, there will be an increase in the amount of Ghrelin and Cortisol hormones released and a decrease in the amount of Leptin hormone produced in this case. The Ghrelin hormone makes a person feel that he is hungry and the Cortisol hormones play a major role in increasing the stress level of a person; the Leptin hormone is ‘I am full’ hormone. Here, people will feel unsatisfied even after they consume a full course meal. As a result, people who are deprived of proper sleep tend to eat more amount of food in an impulsive manner. Additionally, they are more likely to choose calorie-rich food, which results in weight gain.
Snoring may also trigger sleep disorders. In most cases, snorers will not be able to sleep well at night and hence, they tend to eat more so that they feel keyed up. In order to tackle this issue instantly, it is recommended to use any of the snoring aids with proper guidance. It is reported that sleep-related eating disorders are more prevalent in patients who are already the victims of Bulimia Nervosa (BN) and Binge Eating Disorder (BED). In the case of BED, patients eat a huge quantity of food at night that often results in sleeplessness and fatigue. This may cause a person to exhibit daytime grazing and overeating. Actually, this overeating is his strategy to feel energized throughout the day.
These factors explain the relationship between a poor sleep quality and eating disorders. Unfortunately, most healthcare professionals overlook this correlation; when a person report sleeping disorders, they usually prescribe medication without checking whether or not the patients are suffering from an eating disorder. As a result, the victims will not be able to improve their medical as well as behavioral issues. According to a recent study, addressing eating disorders as part of treating sleep issues not only targets fatal health problems but also alleviates daytime fatigue.
Sleeping Disorders Associated with BN and BED
Sleep-related eating disorders in a person may lead to depression and weight gain. Hence, it must be treated on time. Some of the most common sleep disorders that are associated mainly with Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder are given below.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
The chances of OSA are more in people who are obese. In addition, people who snore regularly may also develop obstructive sleep apnea. In this condition, the soft tissues and muscles at the backside of the tongue falls back resulting in an interrupted breathing pattern known as apnea. As a result of these apneas, patients tend to wake up regularly at night, noticeably with a loud gasp.
Apneas may last for 10 to 60 seconds and may occur around a hundred times a night depending on the intensity of the disorder in a person. This lack of sleep may result in daytime sleepiness, lack of concentration, eating disorders, etc. Hence, it is really crucial to take adequate treatments. Usually, doctors may prescribe using sleep apnea mouthpieces in most cases.
Sleep-Related Eating Disorders (SRED)
People suffering from SRED tend to consume food while they are asleep. The sad part is that they are doing this unconsciously, and hence, they will not be able to recollect it later. In this condition, the victims may eat the type of food that they usually avoid during daytime or they might even consume some inedible food.
Most of the SRED patients diet during daytime and as a result, they will not be able to control their hunger pangs at night and end up eating an enormous quantity of food. According to a recent study, women are more vulnerable to SRED; it is reported that around 5% of women in the world population is affected by SRED. Out of these, 15% of victims are diagnosed with eating disorders such as BN and BED.