Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sleep-Related Eating Disorder a Parasomnia

You may know someone that seems to sleep easy during the night, but unbeknownst to you they are getting up during the night and attacking the refrigerator. This phenomenon is known as a sleep-related eating disorder, a parasomnia, that usually happens because of other sleep or eating disorders. Nocturnal eaters while asleep or half-asleep have little or no recall of the episode the next day other than the mess in the kitchen or a few extra pounds around their middle. Episodes may happen gradually at first then more frequent and can include hazardous activities like using knives or the oven. Eating fatting carbohydrates or sugars are their usual fare, but it is also known that they will try to eat non-foods or raw foods like frozen/raw meat or even animal food.

Who is at risk for developing a sleep-related eating disorder? People that have eating disorders like anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa or those that have obstructive sleep apnea a sleep disorder are more likely to have these episodes, but those younger than 30 also could be affected. More information regarding anorexia nervosa see: Anorexia Nervosa Causes Nocturnal Sleep-Related Eating Disorder and Sleep Deprivation

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Unlike night-eating syndrome which involves over eating between dinner and bedtime, this disorder is fully conscious eating and no bizarre foods or non-foods are eaten. Night-eating syndrome is not caused by an underlying sleep disorder but more likely brought about by issues with food and weight gain in general. Sleep-related eating disorder has health concerns for the individual like; obesity, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, let alone the fear of ingesting toxic substances, burning or cutting themselves. Plus there may be psychological issues because they don’t know why or how to control their behavior.

Treating this disorder begins with diagnosis and evaluation of the underlying eating or sleeping disorder. Determining if it is night-eating syndrome or sleep-related eating disorder by performing a sleep study where they can monitor sleep behaviors though out the night. A doctor may recommend keeping a sleep journal for a least two weeks to document what they and/or their sleep partner may recall. This will help their doctor determine the diagnosis for their particular sleep behavior.

According to WebMD, medication sometimes can be helpful for these disorders; however, sleeping pills should be avoided as they can increase confusion and clumsiness that can lead to injury. Additional treatments may include methods to release stress and anxiety. Examples of these methods include stress management classes, assertiveness training, counseling, and limiting intake of alcohol and caffeine.

The advice for reducing episodes is to keep the individual on a set sleep schedule, make their sleep environment safe and comfortable, avoid sleep deprivation and remove hazardous objects from the kitchen.

The content provided in Sleep Related Eating Disorder a Parasomnia is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for you or your families sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.

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