Harvard Mental Health Letter

Questions & Answers: Nocturnal binge eating

Questions & Answers

Q. Is nocturnal binge eating a problem that needs to be treated?

A. The occasional late-night snack is nothing to worry about. But nightly bingeing merits a closer look. Experts debate the value of creating a specific diagnostic category for nocturnal over-eating, but they don't debate the significance of the problem.

Sleep-related eating syndrome is a highly publicized malady, though it's not clear how common it is. People with this problem eat while sleepwalking, or in a twilight state between sleep and wakefulness. They generally aren't conscious of what they are doing, so they may describe waking to find the bed littered with candy wrappers — with no memory of consuming the candy itself.

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