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Episode 76: Eating Disorders- Nighttime Eating Syndrome


Eating Disorders- Nighttime Eating Syndrome


Do you tend to overeat at night? In this episode, we discuss a lesser-known eating disorder called the night eating syndrome. If this is your first time to hear about this, you’re not alone. I’ve invited Dr. Elizabeth Wassenaar back to shed more light on this disorder.



Key Highlights: 

Tune in to my conversation with Dr. Wassenaar and learn:

  • Is nighttime eating syndrome a relatively new syndrome that we’ve found, or has it been around for a while?
  • Symptoms and characteristics of nighttime syndrome
  • Difference of nighttime eating syndrome versus night owls
  • What age does it start, and does it occur more in adults or children?
  • What causes nighttime eating syndrome
  • How nighttime eating syndrome can contribute to weight gain and obesity
  • The type of food that people with nighttime eating syndrome seek at night
  • Management of this syndrome when you are also diagnosed with obesity
  • Detrimental effects in patients if this syndrome is overlooked
  • How the management of obesity itself can inadvertently worsen this syndrome
  • What are the early warning signs that people can look for?
  • How does intermittent fasting play into this eating disorder


What is nighttime eating syndrome?

Nighttime eating syndrome is an eating disorder that’s characterized by people who have excessive, uncontrollable food-seeking behavior at night.

Symptoms of Night Eating Syndrome:

  • Low appetite in the morning
  • Very food averse in the morning
  • The majority of their calories are consumed after their nighttime meal and overnight
  • Dysphoria or low mood that grows through the day
  • Irritability
  • Eating at night that often interferes with sleep
  • Often tired and unrested
  • Weight gain

Treatment Interventions for Night Eating Syndrome:

  1. Identification – being able to recognize this is incredibly important.
  2. Regular eating pattern – start to eat breakfast, and lunch, and dinner and get regular calories throughout the day
  3. Sleep hygiene – sleep medications that can help with sleep, regular sleep, hygiene, and sleep patterns
  4. Incorporating physical activity 
  5. CBT for insomnia, as an intervention for interrupted sleep patterns
  6. Light therapy – reset their circadian rhythm and interrupt the night eating pattern
  7. Treatment for anxiety or depression



“It’s a compulsion, which is the word that I use when I describe it to people, because it really is something that feels like it’s out of your control.” – Dr. Elizabeth Wassenaar


“If you don’t treat the eating disorder first, it’s very, very hard to treat anything else. Because eating disorders are, they interfere with medical treatments across the board.” – Dr. Elizabeth Wassenaar




Dr. Elizabeth Wassenaar: LinkedIn

Need help for your/your loved one’s eating disorder?

Eating Recovery Center


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