Do you feel like not having breakfast quite often? Do you often keep up late at night and binge on snacks? You might be suffering from an emerging eating disorder, which is characterized by a loss of appetite in the morning and compensating for it during night hours. The disorder is usually accompanied with anxiety as well as insomnia. So, night eating syndrome or NES can also be listed under the category of mood and sleep disorder. Although the diagnosis of this disease is controversial and its validity and clinical utility remains to be established, several research studies show that this is not simply a bad indulgence but a clinical illness of a sort which leads to changes in hormonal levels.
Causes Of Night Eating Syndrome
At times, school and college goers, who reside in hostels specifically, cultivate the habit of remaining awake and eating. This habit sticks to them even when they become working adults. It is also observed among those high achievers who work through their entire lunch time and then compensate by eating more during the night hours.
Response To Dieting
This eating disorder may ironically be a response to dieting. When one religiously follows the dieting norms, he restricts his calorie consumption during the day. But when night descends, his brain gets busy signaling that his body requires food. It is then that the person typically overcompensates for the energy deficiency by eating after the conventional dinner time.
Stress & Strain
People suffering from NES are seen to experience hormonal imbalance. Excessive stress often results in such a state. Persistent stress leads to production of cortisol, a hormone that signals the body that stress is present. According to one theory, night eating syndrome is the body’s way of tackling the excess levels of cortisol. Studies indicate that people with NES produce large amounts of cortisol in comparison to others. Eating is just one way opted by the body to neutralize the cortisol level or slacken its rate of production.
Reaction To Drugs
Night eating syndrome is seen to be a response to the antidepressant medication. This clearly suggests that there is a chemical component to the disorder. Researchers have also studied that night eaters prefer carbohydrates over other categories of food. Carbohydrates are a food-type that triggers the brain to produce “feel-good” neuro-chemicals. Thus, night eating syndrome may be an unconscious attempt by the body to self-medicate mood disorders and reduce the stress level as well. Carbohydrates help adjust the chemical balance in the brain by increasing serotonin levels.
Symptoms Of Night Eating Syndrome
A person suffering from NES has little or no appetite for breakfast. The first meal of the day is delayed for several hours even after waking up.