What the body signals when you want to eat at night

Татьяна ФиалковаТатьяна Фиалкова

What the body signals when you want to eat at night
What the body signals when you want to eat at night


Lack of appetite in the middle of the night is a common complaint from patients. In the medical environment, this evening gesture is better known as night eating syndrome.

Many people perceive night eating as a kind of adaptation of the body to a certain mode of operation. Especially if there is no appetite and time in the morning, and in the evening there is everything: both appetite and time. But in fact, this is not an adaptation to disturbed circadian rhythms, but a manifestation of a disease called Night eating syndrome (NES), which is included in the classification of mental illnesses. Regular nighttime eating is not just a prank, but a serious signal of a condition that can progress.

NES was first described in 1955 and combines mental, eating disorders + daily routine disorders, and stress factors. Binge eating disorder affects people who consume more than 1/2 of their daily food intake between dinner and breakfast the next day. They may also often interrupt sleep for nighttime snacks, and in the morning they have to ignore breakfast until about lunchtime when they have an appetite.

The second important sign of NES is constant anxiety, depression, and emotional tension that increase towards nightfall (cortisol rises and serotonin falls).

It is believed that no more than 9% of the population suffers from NES, although I think it is much higher. In the presence of this syndrome, it is natural that biological rhythms, hormonal levels, and metabolism in general are significantly disturbed. The closer to the evening, the more the state of emotional hypoglycemia increases, and a "serotonin pit" is formed.

In a healthy person, melatonin is produced at night, which allows you to fall asleep safely. In case of NES, the level of melatonin and leptin hormones becomes lower, while cortisol and insulin levels are higher... thus, endocrine regulation of hunger is disrupted, which is why appetite increases at night.

Thus, NES is a complex disorder based on disregard for circadian rhythms and sleep/rest patterns.

A common complaint of those suffering from NES: "If I don't eat, I can't sleep." Some patients even took this manifestation as a variant of the norm.