Sleep-Related Eating Disorder: Causes, Treatment, and More

Sleep-Related Eating Disorder: Causes, Treatment, and More

Sleep is critical to the normal and healthy function of a human’s life. Unfortunately, some disorders can disrupt the ability to get restful sleep, either in quality or quantity. One disorder that doesn’t get a lot of attention is SRED, or sleep related eating disorder. This is a condition where, during the period when the body is moving from being awake into non-REM sleep, the mind can remain active enough to engage in a very specific kind of sleepwalking behavior.

Normal sleepwalking is simply when someone who is asleep will move around, unaware of the fact that they’re active and not resting quietly. SRED takes this same behavior, and adds an uncontrollable urge to binge eat. The sleepwalker will seek out foods, normally calorie dense foods, and consume them. All while their mind is still asleep. Like most sleepwalkers, the individual will not remember what they’ve done; even if shown evidence of their activities.

The cause and reason for occurrence of SRED is not yet understood, but sleep pathologists speculate stress, lifestyle factors, and anyone who’s already prone to more routine forms of sleepwalking is at risk for SRED incidents. Treatment focuses on these lifestyle risk factors, seeking to minimize or eliminate them in the hopes of stopping future SRED incidents.