• Are You A Night Eater

    by Lauren King, PsyD
    on Apr 10th, 2017

Are You A Night Eater?


Nocturnal overeating, or eating a significant amount of your daily food intake at night rather than throughout the day, characterizes night eating syndrome. This night eating pattern is associated with guilt, shame, depressed mood, and weight gain. It is not uncommon for individuals with a night eating pattern to be overweight or obese, but not everyone who engages in night eating is overweight. Night eating syndrome can also be quite disruptive to sleep. It is not completely known what causes night eating syndrome. One theory is that late night eating involves a disruption in the hormones that regulate appetite, sleep, or mood. However, another theory suggests night eating is a form of stress-related coping because late-night snacking usually involves carbohydrate-rich “comfort” foods. Meeting with a psychologist and participating in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques may be helpful if you suffer from night eating.


Signs you may have a problem with night eating and need to seek help from a professional:

 -You eat a substantial portion of your daily calories after 7pm.

-You rarely eat in the morning and eat little to nothing around lunchtime.

-You feel guilty, ashamed, or distressed by your night eating.

-Excessive hunger in the evenings and at night.

-You often eat in secret at night.

-You feel full upon waking in the morning.

-At least a couple times per week you wake up in the middle of the night and eat.


Individuals with this night eating pattern sometimes feel loss of control over their eating at night. Extreme hunger at night is also common. Night eating is often associated with a delayed circadian rhythm pattern, particularly if you wake later in the day and go to bed later at night. Your body is signaled for hunger later in the day when you wake later. Research studies have suggested people tend to eat more at a later time on the weekends, likely because weekends are when people tend to sleep in later and go to bed later.


If you are experiencing this night eating pattern, call Bluepoint Medical Associates to schedule an appointment with our psychologist today.



Allison, K.C., Lundgren, J.D., O'Reardon, J.P., Geliebter, A., Gluck, M.E., Vinai, P., Mitchell, J.E., Schenck, C.H., Howell, M.J., Crow, S.J., Engel, S., Latzer, Y., Tzischinsky, O., Mahowald, M.W. and Stunkard, A. J. (2010). Proposed diagnostic criteria for night eating syndrome. Int. J. Eat. Disorders., 43: 241–247.


Striegel-Moore, R. H., Franko, D. L., Thompson, D., Affenito, S. and Kraemer, H. C. (2006), Night Eating: Prevalence and Demographic Correlates. Obesity, 14: 139–147.

Author Lauren King, PsyD Licensed Clinical Psychologist, CBT-I Provider

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