Nighttime dining syndrome: characteristics and consequences

Nighttime eating disorder was first described in 1955, when Stunkard and his team conducted a study to determine eating behavior in people with severe obesity, who presented resistance to weight loss treatment.

Who suffers from this disorder can consume 50% or more of the recommended daily calories at night. This produces an important decompensation in the daily balance of meals and results in the appearance of overweight and obesity.


To make a correct diagnosis of the syndrome it is necessary for the patient to have yes or yes the following characteristics:

– Morning Anorexia: The person suffering from this syndrome usually skips breakfast (at least four days of the week or more) and usually does not eat anything during the morning. This phenomenon is explained by the alteration in the biological rhythm that the disease produces, delaying the appearance of appetite. At lunch and snack meals are very scarce, leaving the food "strong" from day to night.

– Night hyperphagia: The term hyperphagia refers to eating large amounts of food. However, it is different from the binge because there is no sense of loss of control over the amount being ingested. Generally the person looks for caloric foods, rich in carbohydrates, from pizzas to pastry products.

– Sleep disturbances: It is common for the person to suffer from insomnia (four or more episodes in the week) and other sleep disorders. Insomnia is presented as a difficulty falling asleep or a frequent interruption of it accompanied by nocturnal hyperphagia.

That is, the person repeatedly gets up to eat and often feels that until he eats something he will not be able to sleep again. The food would be a kind of "sedative" that helps you fall asleep.


It is usual that there are alterations in mood, with depression being the most related disorder. Approximately 45% of people with this syndrome have at least one episode of major depression in their life, accompanied by feelings of deep sadness and stress.


Like binge eating disorder, the night dining room is often associated with overweight and obesity, occurring in approximately 10% of patients attending a clinic to lose weight.

This weight gain can be explained not only by excessive calorie intake at night, but also by alterations in the biological rhythms produced by sleep disturbance. When both cases occur together there is a greater resistance on the part of the patient to the treatment and worse results in the weight loss plans.

If you think that you or someone you know can suffer from this syndrome, it is best to consult a specialist to get all the necessary help.