Now we know what you are all thinking… Really? Eating 2500 calories in the night whilst asleep? Surely not! However Lesley Cusack, 55, has to keep herself on an extremely strict diet during the day because she has no control over what she eats while asleep at night. From fry ups and cheese sandwiches to fruit and chocolate. Doctors say this is a rare sleep disorder known as Nocturnal Sleep-Related Eating Disorder (NSRED) affecting up to 3% of the general population.
The mother-of-three from Warrington, Cheshire, said: “I can only tell by the remains in the morning. I tend to find opened tins of things or packets and I've no idea whether I've eaten some of them cold or not.” Cusack believes she has suffered from Nocturnal Sleep-Related Eating Disorder for several years. She said “The worst things that I know I've eaten are emulsion paint, Vaseline, cough syrup, raw potatoes and soap powder.” Every night, Lesley goes to bed never knowing what she will find in the morning.
Nocturnal Sleep-Related Eating Disorder (NSRED) is characterised as abnormal eating patterns during the night, it is a combination of an eating disorder and parasomnia which is abnormal and unnatural movements and behaviours during sleep. As funny as the whole situation sounds over the years, Cusack’s night time binges have caused her to pile on the pounds and she said “I'm trying to lose weight but it's a constant battle. I can follow a diet to the letter but it goes to pot at night.”
We thought we would give you some more information on this rare and unique sleep disorder; People with this disorder eat while they are asleep. They often walk into the kitchen and prepare food without a recollection for having done so. Lesley said “Sometimes I've found soup in pans, but also in bowls - it all can get rather messy.” Doctors and psychologists have noticed similar characteristics that have helped to identify and distinguish NSRED from other combinations of sleep and eating disorders and being messy is one of them. People with NSRED are usually messy or harmful to themselves. Some eat their food with their bare hands while others attempt to eat it with utensils which occasionally results in injuries to the person.
So how will this woman be able to overcome this? Is there a treatment for eating this colossal amount of food every night? Well seeing your doctor is obviously the first step; they will begin with an interview and may include an overnight stay in a sleep lab so they can monitor your brain activity during the night. Medication can sometimes be helpful and drug treatments before bed are sometimes both justified and successful. So the next time you feel guilty for overeating that lovely dinner you had or snacking on some chocolate and cakes you should think yourself lucky that you can do that whilst not asleep!