Home > NewsRelease > Mood and Weight Gain May Come Down to How Well You Sleep
Mood and Weight Gain May Come Down to How Well You Sleep
Dr. Patricia A. Farrell -- Psychologist Dr. Patricia A. Farrell -- Psychologist
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Tenafly, NJ
Tuesday, July 9, 2024


Sleep may be related to how well you sleep, how you feel or perform during the day, and your weight.

Photo by Kate Stone Matheson on Unsplash

Sleep disorders are fairly common, especially insomnia, but there are specific disorders that are truly disturbing for the individual and that can wreak havoc on their lives. This is especially true when there is an absolute absence of any awareness by the person who has a sleep disorder.

Recently, a new sleep disorder called sleep-related eating disorder (SRED) was named and added to the list of NREM parasomnias. It is now part of the ICSD-3 group of disorders of arousal, along with sleepwalking, confusional arousals, and sleep terrors. As is common for arousal disorders, SRED is defined by behaviors that are not usual while you are in NREM sleep.

These SRED behaviors are marked by episodes of eating and drinking during which the person is only partially or totally unaware of what is happening. There is a difference between SRED and night eating syndrome (NES), a disorder in which people who are awake at night eat too much.

SRED is linked to at least one of the following symptoms: eating strange combinations of food or substances that are not edible or are toxic; doing harmful or potentially harmful things during sleep while looking for food or cooking food; and/or having adverse health effects from eating late at night regularly.

There are three states of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep: stage 1, stage 2, and stage 3. During each stage, the mind goes through different processes, but the person sleeping has slower breathing, muscle activity, heartbeat, and brain waves. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep differs from NREM sleep.

An additional clinical finding related to these disorders is that eating at night may be another non-motor sign of Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) in some people. In some individuals, sexual behavior starts when a person is only partially awake from NREM sleep. This is called sexsomnia, which involves sexual activity while you sleep.

The research literature indicates that women are primarily affected by SRED, and the case histories are quite interesting, with some being related to specific medications.

For sleep apnea, a 46-year-old woman had a sleep evaluation. She suffered from depression and trouble sleeping in the past and took zolpidem (Ambien) every day for about a year. After just three weeks on the drugs, she began eating while she slept almost every night. About an hour after falling asleep, she would wake up, go downstairs to the kitchen, and eat leftovers. She also always left a mess. The woman gained 50 pounds and began to snore. Once the medication was stopped, the eating behavior ceased.

Another woman, 26 years old, was being treated for depression with quetiapine. During her treatment, she began to exhibit the characteristic symptoms of sleep-related eating disorder. While walking with her eyes open, the patient ate and walked but did not know what happened.

Three or four nights a week, she ate junk food from the fridge while asleep. She cut a mango in half before she ate it. Although sleeping, she also ate chocolate spread from a large bottle. Over several nights, she drank everything in the bottle. The patient rarely ate chocolate to keep her weight in check. Once the woman woke up, she could remember nothing. She had gained 24 pounds during this treatment period.

Her medication was then changed to olanzapine, which unfortunately reduced the number of times she got up to eat but did not stop it completely. She was then switched to Ambien, and her eating behavior ceased. This indicates that medication may cause sleep eating disorder in some patients, but with this patient, it stopped her eating.

A study of the WHO pharmacovigilance database found that quetiapine was the antipsychotic most often linked to SRED in over 53% of cases.

How the Disorder Is Identified

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are used to treat primary SRED. An SSRI raises the amount of serotonin in the brain. A hormone called serotonin does many things in the body, one of which is to control your mood.

In addition, there are several recommendations to help people with this type of sleep disorder, and they include:

Stress management along with relaxation exercises.

Good “sleep hygiene” means staying away from coffee and screens, avoiding alcohol before bed and following a regular sleep schedule.

Additional steps that may be taken include locking the oven, refrigerator, cabinets, and drawers where harmful items may be kept.

Also, consider an assistive device such as an alarm on the bedroom door to awaken the person should they get up during the night to go to eat. Also, it may be necessary to reposition furniture that could be in the way to the kitchen and that might cause a fall if the person sleepwalks.

When a sleep disorder is suspected, it is always necessary to have a sleep evaluation, possibly in a sleep lab at a hospital or other facility. Monitoring will enable sleep specialists to have a better idea regarding the best treatment steps. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine does provide a listing for sleep labs in the United States.

Website: www.drfarrell.net

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Medium page: https://medium.com/@drpatfarrell

Twitter: @drpatfarrell

Attribution of this material is appreciated.

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Name: Dr. Patricia A. Farrell, Ph.D.
Title: Licensed Psychologist
Group: Dr. Patricia A. Farrell, Ph.D., LLC
Dateline: Tenafly, NJ United States
Cell Phone: 201-417-1827
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