In a rare condition, a 55 year old woman recently stated that she needs to follow a strict diet throughout the day as she has no control over what she eats at night. Lesley Cusack says that she can only determine what she’s eaten by the packets and empty containers the following morning. This rare form of sleep-walking, known as Sleep Related Eating Disorder or SRED, means that your body switches off at night. Cusack says that she has tried to use alarms to wake her up, but that she simply ignores them in her sleep – her body only allows her to eat. At first, she was only aware of night terrors, but this quickly developed into an eating disorder which has left her feeling embarrassed and guilty of everything she’s eaten the night before.Of course, such a condition can cause severe weight gain and makes dieting difficult – no matter how controlled you are during the day, your body doesn’t follow regimes at night. It also means that food might not be your only problem – Cusack says that she’s been known to eat paint, Vaseline, cough syrup and soap powder, among others that she’s not sure of. The condition comes with other symptoms, such as stomach cramps, extreme feelings of guilt and, of course, disturbed nights.
Most benign sleep walking disorders start in childhood, but disappear in adulthood, however around one percent of adults continue to have symptoms. Factors which are known to fragment sleep include snoring, an uncomfortable environment and restless legs – general stress may increase the risk of complex sleep disorders. You may find that medication can help you to sleep more soundly and reduce the risk of sleep walking conditions developing – speak to your GP who can advise you further.