People with a sleep-related eating disorder have frequent episodes of compulsive eating while sleepwalking during the night. The person has impaired consciousness while preparing food and eating it, with little or no memory of these actions the next morning.
A sleep-related eating disorder can cause dangerous use of kitchen appliances or injury from eating something toxic. Typically the person eats high-carbohydrate and high-fat foods during the episode but may also eat bizarre items, such as coffee grounds, frozen food or cigarette butts. This disorder can lead to problems such as weight gain, poor diabetes control or dental cavities.
Sleep-related eating disorder is more common in women and typically starts when people are in their 20s. It often occurs in people who have restless legs syndrome and may be a related condition. Sleep-related eating disorder may also be linked to other sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea, and it can be a side effect of short-acting sleep medications, such as zolpidem (Ambien, Edluar, Zolpimist).
April 15, 2014
- Howell MJ. Parasomnias: An updated review. Neurotherapeutics. 2012;9:763.
- Antelmi E, et al. Nocturnal eating is part of the clinical spectrum of restless legs syndrome and an underestimated risk factor for increased body mass index. Sleep Medicine. In press. Accessed Jan. 9, 2014.
- Women and sleep. National Sleep Foundation. http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-topics/women-and-sleep. Accessed Jan. 9, 2014.
- Howell MJ. Restless eating, restless legs, and sleep related eating disorder. Current Obesity Reports. Dec. 19, 2013. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13679-013-0083-6. Accessed Jan. 10, 2013.
- Silber MH (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 28, 2014.
- Questions and Answers: Risk of next-morning impairment after use of insomnia drugs; FDA requires lower recommended doses for certain drugs containing zolpidem (Ambien, Ambien CR, Edluar, and Zolpimist). U.S. Food and Drug Administration http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm334041.htm#q8. Accessed Feb. 1, 2014.