Alexithymia is not related to severity of night eating behavior: A useful distinction from other eating disorders

Piergiuseppe Vinai, Federica Provini, Elena Antelmi, Marco Marcatelli, Silvia Cardetti, Luisa Vinai, Paolo Vinai, Cecilia Bruno, Maurizio Speciale, Kelly C. Allison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Patients affected by Night Eating Syndrome (NES) complain of insomnia, mood, anxiety and overeating, which have all been linked to difficulties in dealing with emotions, but no research has examined the levels of alexithymia among NES patients. We compared the levels of alexithymia among samples of: NES patients, insomniac patients who do not eat at night, and a control group. Method: The study included 153 participants: 34 with NES, 47 with insomnia, and 72 in the control group. Half of the NES group was recruited in a weight and eating disorders center in Philadelphia and the other in a sleep disorders center in Bologna, Italy. Alexithymia was evaluated through the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS). Results: All groups scored in the normal range of the TAS. There was no relationship between alexithymia and the severity of NES. The insomnia participants reported the highest levels of alexithymia and NES patients the lowest. All NES patients' scores were under the clinical cut-off for alexithymia. Discussion: These data differ from the high levels of alexithymia reported by the literature among patients affected by Binge Eating Disorder (BED), suggesting that abnormal diurnal and nocturnal eating patterns, even though they may share several symptoms, are distinct syndromes having different psychopathological pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-98
Number of pages5
JournalEating Behaviors
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2015


  • Alexithymia
  • Binge eating disorder
  • Insomnia
  • Night eating syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Medicine(all)


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