Flourish Psychology is a boutique private practice that specializes in eating disorders and eating disorder treatment. Dr. Sadi Fox and her team of therapists work with adults that struggle with anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, and other disordered eating challenges, offering a safe and open space to help rebuild a healthier relationship with food and body image.
One challenge that many people face in silence is known as “night eating syndrome.” It is classified as an “OSFED” – an “Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder,” and many of the people that struggle with it do not realize that it is a type of disordered eating, or that it may be affecting their life.
Night Eating Syndrome: Symptoms and Challenges
Night eating syndrome is exactly as it sounds – a condition where a person tends to eat either late at night or in the middle of the night. The quantity of food is not important – some people eat large quantities of food (known as “binge eating”) but most just eat normal or even smaller quantities of food.
This type of challenge often goes unnoticed, because most people do not realize that it is a problem. After all, the quantity of food is normal, and the person feels hungry, so it feels like a logical action – “I woke up because I am hungry, so I am going to eat a little and go back to sleep.”
But the problem is that night eating is associated with many problematic issues, and often causes life impairment in ways that or often ignored:
- Obesity – Night eating often adds unnecessary calories at a time in the digestion cycle where calories process more slowly. 10% of all individuals struggling with being medically overweight are found to be night eaters.
- Disrupted Sleep – Those with night eating syndrome wake up multiple days of the week in the middle of the night to eat. Some others may wake up multiple times throughout the night. This causes disrupted sleep and a poor quality of life.
- Nighttime Anxiety/Depression – Those with night eating syndrome tend to have or develop depression and anxiety at night. Eating may or may not relieve some of those symptoms.
These represent only a few of the physical, social, and emotional challenges that night eating can cause. Because night eating isn’t generally seen as a problem, these issues can persist for months or years before someone seeks help.
How is Night Eating Treated?
Night eating can be treated in several ways. From a therapist’s standpoint, the best approach is typically – although not always – cognitive behavioral therapy. Often there are psychological patterns and thought processes that need to be addressed in order to help people take control of not only their night eating habits, but also any struggles they may have with anxiety, depression, and self-esteem.
Other treatment options may include DBT and relaxation exercises. Your therapist at Flourish Psychology will talk to you about the different treatment choices and what makes the most sense based on your struggles.
Disordered Eating and Your Health and Happiness
Night eating syndrome is one example of the many ways that disordered eating can affect your life. Sometimes, the effects are more subtle or not well associated with mental health, but the damage it can do to a person’s health, happiness, and sleep quality can be substantial.
If you or a loved one struggles with eating disorders in NYC, please contact Flourish Psychology, today.