Night Eating Syndrome

What is night eating syndrome?

Night eating syndrome (often called NES) is a kind of eating disorder. People with NES generally eat a lot late at night and have difficulty sleeping as well.

Although night eating syndrome is a distinct disorder, it can also occur alongside other eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and/or binge eating disorder.

Night eating syndrome is also similar in some ways to a different disorder called sleep-related eating disorder, but the difference is that unlike people with sleep-related eating disorder, people with night eating syndrome remember eating at night.

It’s normal to have an occasional snack after dinner, but if you’re worried about how much you eat at night and are also having trouble sleeping, you may be dealing with night eating syndrome.

How common is night eating syndrome?

The most recent research on night eating syndrome suggests that about 1.5% of adults experience this disorder. For people who are obese, the rate goes up to about 10%.

Night eating syndrome is about equally common for men and women. People who are dealing with substance use issues, anxiety, and/or depression also seem to be more likely to have night eating syndrome.

What are some symptoms of night eating syndrome?

Night eating syndrome can look different in different people, but some common symptoms include:

Additionally, the DSM-5 outlines specific criteria that are used for diagnosing night eating syndrome. According to the DSM-5, a diagnosis of night eating syndrome requires that an individual:


Plus, the individual must also experience at least three of the following five symptoms as well:

It’s also necessary that the individual remember eating at night. If they do not, the diagnosis would more likely be a related condition called sleep-related eating disorder, in which individuals eat at night but don’t remember doing so.

What to do if you’re experiencing night eating syndrome

If you think you might have night eating syndrome, consider the following options:

Best therapy types for night eating syndrome

There are a number of different kinds of psychotherapy that can be helpful for night eating syndrome. Some options to consider include:

Some studies have also suggested that phototherapy (light therapy) can be a helpful way to treat night eating syndrome, but there is relatively little evidence about whether or not this treatment is effective.

What should I look for in a therapist for night eating syndrome?

Most importantly, you’ll want to find a therapist who is experienced in treating night eating syndrome. This will usually involve:

Finally, as with any therapy, it’s important to make sure that your therapist is a good fit for your unique needs. Be sure to evaluate the following in your initial calls with therapists: