Department of Somnology, Tokyo Medical University.
Nighttime eating is categorized as either sleep-related eating disorder (SRED) or night eating syndrome (NES). Critical reviews of the literature on both disorders have suggested that they are situated at opposite poles of a disordered eating spectrum. The feeding behavior in SRED is characterized by recurrent episodes of eating after an arousal from nighttime sleep with amnesia. Conversely, NES could be considered as an abnormality in the circadian rhythm of meal timing with a normal circadian timing of sleep onset. Both conditions clearly concentrate to occur during young adulthood, and are often relentless and chronic. Misunderstanding and low awareness of SRED and NES have limited our ability to determine the exact prevalence of the two disorders. SRED is frequently associated with other sleep disorders, in particular parasomnias such as sleep walking. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is ineffective, but pharmacotherapy is very effective in controlling SRED. Especially, studies have shown that the anti-seizure medication topiramate may be an effective treatment for SRED.
Seishin Shinkeigaku Zasshi. 2010;112(9):912-20