Night Eating Symptoms

In this Article:

Night Eating Symptoms

Excessive eating during night hours
Binging during night hours
Skipping of breakfast meal or snack at least four times per week
Consuming more than half of ones daily calories after 7pm
Irritability during night time hours
Hormone changes
Mood swings (during night and morning hours, in particular)

Night Eating Causes

One recent study printed in the Journal of American Medicine Association categorizes the behavorial characteristics of the study participants in relation to plasma melatonin, leptin, and cortisol. These hormones have a direct relation and effect upon eating levels, sleep levels, and even mood. Such hormones are found at lower levels in those with Night Eating Disorder.

The Cyclical Effect

The avoidance or disinterest of morning consumption usually leads to overall less calories consumed during daytime hours. During night hours a person may become anxious or even depressed due to low serotonin levels resulting in high consumption of high carbohydrate foods. This consumption can often last several hours and several snacks or even small meals (lower caloric consumption of food than an average meal: under 300 calories).


As experienced by Night Eating Disorder sufferers the ability to sleep is difficult. General irritability (from anxiety, stress, hormones, etc.) and mood swings may intefere with the calm ordinarily associated with positive restful sleep. Yet, the under-production of hormones has the potential to contribute to the insomnia and seemingly “vicious cycle” experienced by Night Eating Disorder patients.

Melatonin: the nightime rise in this hormone that accompanies sleep and restfulness is often absent in Night Eating Disorder patients. The problem that arises is the melatonin remains at low or constant levels often due to Night Eating Disorder. Thus the cycle become self-perpetuating.

Leptin: a hormone associated with appetite suppression especially during nighttime hours. This hormone enables comfort during sleep hours without hunger or appetite. The lack of a normal eating schedule (missing breakfast, late binges) and calorie consumption(often less than normal for a persons Body Mass Index; persons can be either obese and overconsuming or underconsuming most hours of the day due to missed meals) often prevent the creation/secretion (timing and quantity) of this hormone.


Eating Disorder Self Test. Take the EAT-26 self test to see if you might have eating disorder symptoms that might require professional evaluation. All answers are confidential.

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