August 18, 1999

Nocturnal Eating SyndromesTo Sleep, Perchance to Eat

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque.

JAMA. 1999;282(7):689-690. doi:10.1001/jama.282.7.689

For millions, late-night refrigerator raids are typified by Dagwood Bumstead, who for decades has haunted his kitchen, consuming foot-high sandwiches when everyone else in the family is asleep. For others, such raids are not comic and cause distress.

The differential diagnosis of aberrant nighttime eating includes the night-eating syndrome; sleep-related eating disorders in which alertness is altered; binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa with nighttime eating; dissociative states in which nighttime eating may occur; and the Kleine-Levin syndrome, characterized by compulsive eating in conjunction with hypersexuality, behavioral abnormalities, and excessive somnolence.1,2 Furthermore, patients may show features from several of these conditions concurrently.

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