Sleep walking or Sleep eating – What’s worse? She didn’t know why she was putting on weight until she found out this
Just when I thought my worst nightmare would be someone pouring a tube of hair removal cream on my head while I’m asleep in the night, and waking up to a bald head, there comes along a sleep walking situation that occurred in real life to a woman, to simply outdo my hair loss fears. Meet Kate Archibald, a 20-year-old from Scotland who used to wake up every morning a number of calories heavier.
1 The baffling predicament of Kate Archibald
Kate is a third year student at The Aberdeen University of Philosophy, who resides in an apartment along with a couple of flat mates. She found the popular saying ‘you are what you eat’, very hard to relate to herself, because she mysteriously shot up from a size 10 to a size 16 in just three University terms, and she had no idea why.
Her flat mates had been constantly accusing her of eating up all the food in the fridge and sometimes of even stealing the food, but Kate had absolutely no memory of taking food away from the fridge and defended herself saying it definitely wasn’t her. But then, the day she discovered chocolate wrappers by her bed in the morning, she slowly started piecing things together.
2 What was wrong with Kate?
Apparently, Kate was diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) when she was eight years old, and a side effect of her medication was that she completely lost appetite. But this effect wore off during the night-time, as a result of which, Kate became a victim of the Nocturnal Eating Disorder.
3 Sleep-Eating! Because sleep walking isn’t creepy enough…
Sleep disorders are a rather commonly observed condition in many people. Sleep eating is a parasomnia event, where the afflicted subject awakens a number of times from their sleep, and subconsciously consumes a lot more food than they ought to. Victims of this disorder often have little or no memory of them indulging in such activities.
A lot of parallels can be drawn between sleep walking and sleep eating. Subjects afflicted with sleep eating will rarely indulge in other activities such as sleep walking, and once their eating episodes are completed, they will often return to bed. And like in sleep walking, it’s very hard to snap them out of their state, and if you do, they may tend to get annoyed with you.
4 Is sleep eating dangerous?
Sleep eating can also be potentially dangerous, because in that state or parasomnia, you’re not entirely in your senses. This may even lead you to eat things that are not edible or ingestible. Cigarettes, coffee beans, cleaning liquids etc. are some of the food items that have been consumed by the afflicted. Not only this but many have also injured themselves while handling hot kitchen equipment, knives etc. while attempting to cook.
Those with the sleep eating disorder tend to eat food items that are high in calories and sugar. Sometimes people even find themselves eating food that they are allergic to, as in the case of Kate, who found herself eating peanuts, which she had an allergy for. The prime objective of a sleep eater is to eat, so all other senses are disabled for the person at that point of time, which may lead to serious consequences.
5 How to get rid of sleep eating?
Sleep eating can be curbed by certain medications that suppress sleep parasomnia along with sleep eating tendencies. Another way is to create a ‘sleep eater-friendly’ environment, which ironically includes keeping in the kitchen any food items which are easily accessible. Also, dangerous food items and objects that are prone to cause injury can be taken away from the kitchen. The path to the kitchen can also be kept uncluttered such that the person doesn’t trip while visiting the kitchen. A well balanced diet can also prevent the midnight cravings for food.
6 On a lighter note…
Sleep paralysis, sleep talking, REM disorder, insomnia, bed wetting, sleep apnea, the list is endless! All these are sleep related disorders, very similar to sleep eating, with their own dangers. But Kate Archibald jokingly stated that this incident had its own benefits. When her roommates discovered that she had this problem, they would leave food out on the counters deliberately such that she would eat it. And when she realized so in the morning, she would go to the nearest Tesco outlet to replace the food she ate, a result of her gnawing guilty conscience. This helped her roommates when they were broke.
Take a look at really strange sleeping disorders; some are more dangerous than even sleep eating!