Objective: Nocturnal eating behavior is shared by patients affected by a parasomnia, sleep-related eating disorder (SRED), and several eating disorders such as night eating syndrome (NES) and binge-eating disorder (BED); however, the differential clinical features of these patients have been poorly studied, with persisting difficulties in defining the borders between these pathologies. The aim of this study was to evaluate polysomnographic and personality characteristics of nocturnal eaters to further differentiate the syndromes. Methods: During a period of six months, consecutive patients complaining of nocturnal eating were asked to participate to the study. Twenty-four patients who were found to eat during the polysomnographic recording (PSG) study, and gender-matched control subjects were included. All subjects underwent a full-night video-PSG study and a psychometric assessment including the Eating Disorder Inventory (EDI-2), the self-rating Bulimic Investigatory Test-Edinburgh (BITE), the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI), and the Barratt Impulsivity Scale (BIS). Results: Nocturnal eaters showed a mild reduction in sleep efficiency and duration due to a moderate sleep fragmentation, whereas the percentage of each sleep stage was not significantly affected. Nocturnal eaters scored higher at many subscales of the EDI-2, at the BITE symptoms subscale, and at the BIS attentional impulsivity subscale. Conclusion: The psychological characteristics found in our patients with NES seem to be typical for patients affected by eating disorders, and support the hypothesis that the nocturnal behavior of these individuals is due to an eating disorder; however, specific traits also allow differentiation of NES from BED.
- Binge-eating disorder
- Night eating syndrome
- Sleep-related eating disorder
ASJC Scopus subject areas