Treatment Options For Night Eating Syndrome

Posted on: 29 April 2016

Night eating syndrome, or NES, is a eating disorder characterized by an uncontrollable urge to eat in the evening. Night eaters have little to no appetite during the day, consuming most of their daily calories at night. Treatment involves a combination of therapies.

Symptoms of NES

To diagnose a patient with NES, they must display certain symptoms.

  • Lack of morning appetite - night eaters generally don't desire breakfast. They don't awake with hunger pangs like most normal people.
  • Overeating at night - NES patients take in 25% of their daily calories after eating supper. They will wake on three or more nights a week and eat during the night, not being able to get back to sleep unless they eat.
  • Loss of memory of night eating - like sleep walkers, night eaters often do not remember their night food binges.


First, patients must be educated to be more aware of their eating patterns. They learn to identify triggers, such as stressors, that set off binges. Many patients carry a lot of guilt about their eating problem, and they are taught what NES is and helped to understand that it is not their fault.

Pharmacological Treatments

Studies show that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can significantly reduce some of the symptoms of NES. Paroxetine and fluvoxamine were both found to be effective. Studies also showed that therapy with sertraline showed a great reduction in weekly awakenings and food ingestions per week. Consequently, it also resulted in a much lower number of calories being consumed after supper. Those patients who showed improvement also had weight loss, while those who didn't had a weight gain. One study showed the same successes when being treated with topiramate, an antiepileptic medication.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

The single thought that if they don't eat, they won't be able to sleep distinguishes patients with night eating syndrome from those with binge eating disorder. Components of cognitive behavior therapy include weight management, behavior modification, and cognitive therapy. Patients begin to consume most of their calories earlier in the day to overcome their faulty learned relationships between food and sleep. They are asked to keep a log of food intake and sleep patterns. Weight loss strategies involve the usual methods of controlling meals and snacks to restrict their daily calories. Talk therapy addresses the need to identify, evaluate, and restructure their faulty thought patterns.

This intensive multi-faceted therapy for night eating syndrome is best conducted in a controlled environment, such as an eating disorder treatment center. Contact your doctor to have him recommend a eating disorder center that can help you.

For treatment options for eating disorders, contact a company such as Center for Change eating disorder treatment center