Do you ever go unconscious and eat bread, cake, cookies, candy or ice cream after 10 pm when you’re bored, to fill a void? You may be suffering from Night Eating Syndrome or NES. People with NES tend to stay up late, often suffer from insomnia, depression, anxiety or low self-esteem. They sometimes have a belief that they have to eat in order to go back to sleep. They often skip breakfast and will binge on carbs after dinner. NES is a way of self-medicating due to stress. When you’re under stress, the adrenal glands produce the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol helps you wake up in the morning and drops at night to help you go to sleep. Cortisol also stimulates hunger and makes you crave sweets. When cortisol interacts with insulin it causes fat storage in the abdomen or belly fat.
The night owl who eats salty, high carbohydrate snacks or sweets, increases their cortisol, often has trouble sleeping and puts on weight. If your adrenal glands are burnt out due to insomnia and stress, then cortisol will be depleted. After not having slept well, many people turn to coffee which stimulates the adrenal glands to produce cortisol. Coffee with meals can trigger an increase in cortisol surges that can cause overeating when blood sugar drops later on. High levels of cortisol can interfere with a good night’s sleep. High cortisol causes the body to store fat and slows metabolism.This vicious cycle often causes weight gain, high cholesterol and insulin resistance which can lead to diabetes. It may also cause high blood pressure and heart disease.
Additionally, cortisol can decrease the growth of beneficial flora in the intestines. These essential bacteria support the immune system and produce B vitamins. A decrease in their population results in more colds, sore throats, diarrhea and the overgrowth of harmful fungus like candida. In order to lose weight you have to handle any sleep issues or candida overgrowth first before you can expect to lose weight.
For many years I’ve stayed up late on the computer and snacking. I’ve noticed that if I eat carbs, it makes me hungry and I want to eat more. After much trial and error I’ve found that the best foods to eat before bed are cherries and walnuts. Cherries are high in melatonin and walnuts are high in tryptophan. These are both low-glycemic and will help you get a better night’s sleep.
Oxytocin is a hormone that counterbalances cortisol. It’s known as the love hormone or the cuddle hormone, can decrease cortisol levels and has a great effect with overeating at night. There’s a saying, “Reach for your mate instead of your plate.” I enjoy cuddling with my wife while watching a movie and then we unwind with yoga before bed. If you’re having difficulty falling asleep. I just produced a brand new DVD called “Yoga for Deep, Restful Sleep.” which is available at our clinic.
At Advanced Weight Loss & Wellness we have a multidisciplinary approach to treating Night Eating Syndrome. We encourage patients to keep an exercise, diet and bedtime diary. We work with supplements to improve sleep, eliminate candida and other pathogens, balance blood sugar and support the adrenal glands against stress.
If you’ve had long standing stress we can provide the Adrenal Stress Index Test. If you have chronic digestive issues we can order the Comprehensive Stool Specimen Test to rule out infection, test for candida and to see which probiotics are needed.
Low levels of neurotransmitters can cause salty and sweet cravings as well as emotional disturbances. We can help determine which neurotransmitters are low and which foods and supplements you require to help balance your emotions and food cravings.
If you have some weight to lose, we have a 21-day Rejuvenation Program which includes the Liver Enhancement Program, Lipo-Light infra red light machine which eliminates an inch of fat in 20 minutes, the Master Key which helps you relax and reduces cortisol levels and the Whole Body Vibration machine which firms and tones the body in just 10 minutes. For more details go to: www.AdvancedWeightLossandWellness.com
If you’re suffering from Night Eating Syndrome, insomnia, weight gain or binge eating I would love a chance to help. Many of my Berkeley/Oakland patients continue to see me for adjustments as well. Please call me for a free consultation at 925-962-9160 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Portions of this article were provided courtesy of Weight Loss and Hormone Expert and Spokesperson Dr. Tammy Post. Visit www.DrTammyPost.com or call 479-657-6800.
2. January 2010 Issue, Night Eating Syndrome by Cathy Leman, MA, RD, LD, Today’s Dietitian Vol. 12 No. 1 P. 8.
3. Prophylactic diet: A treatment for night eating syndrome, Saeed Shoar et al., Hypothesis 2012, 10(1): e5, doi:10.5779/ hypothesis.v10i1.241 (2012).