night eating

Do you awaken at night to raid the ice-box—not once, but maybe two or three or even four times a night?

If so, you suffer from a type of insomnia—because you’re eating when you’re supposed to be in bed asleep! But which part of this equation do you think causes the other? Do we eat at night because we are awake, or are we awake because we are hungry?

Not surprisingly, either scenario tends to encourage the other. If we suffer from insomnia—then we are all the more likely to be awake during the night—without a lot to do except agonize about how tired we will be tomorrow. Often a snack helps us get back to sleep. So we get out of bed and we rummage through the refrigerator.

Recent studies show, however, that snacking itself can become habit-forming. The reason why is because the content of many snack foods—manufactured foods that are high in fat and sugar—itself is addicting. We eat a snack and one hour later—we feel the craving overtake us again.

Night eating appears to be far more common among insomniacs than is traditionally recognized. In his excellent book on insomnia, Desperately Seeking Snoozin’ author John Wiedman relates his research that found “binge-eating” present in 10-15% of all the insomniacs studied for his book. Furthermore, Wiedman writes that 20-30% have “some kind of problem related to eating, interfering with a good night’s sleep.”

What’s the solution? Eliminate sugars and sweets and cut back on fats—except those included in your normal nightly meal. Avoid processed foods. If you wake up during the night with a craving for a snack—allow yourself to get up and get out of bed—but only drink an ice water. Wiedman says you’ll get results immediately.

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