The Animal Beneath the “I”: Sleepeating Disorders

I’m writing a piece of pay copy about Nocturnal Eating Disorder.  Now, people who have this are fully conscious when they eat at night.  Either they snack continuously during late-night television time, or they will wake and not be able to go back to sleep without a snack.  I do this, but it’s usually tied to plummeting blood glucose levels that can occur with diabetes.

Eating While Unconscious

The other type of disorder is akin to somnambulism.  A person partially wakes and makes their way to the kitchen.  They then proceed to consume a large amount of typically unhealthy food.  This disorder is associated commonly with sleep medications. lunesta+moth Remember those horror stories you’ve read about people driving while taking one of the little luna moth pills? This is in the same vein.  What I have to wonder is, why “typically unhealthy” food?  What is it that we are suppressing during our waking moments that feels the need to sate itself during our sleep?  What if you don’t keep such food in your house?  Will you get in the car and go in search of it?

What does that say about our culture–both the high level of people on such medications and the fact that we’ve had enough data to name the behavior?

Our brains typically turn off the motor functions during sleep to keep us from wandering into danger as we dream.  While some suffer from sleepwalking, it’s not actually that common.  At least it wasn’t.

Now, we are at the mercy of our unconscious programming to glut when the glutting is good–something left over from times when food wasn’t always readily available for anyone.  When you couple this with the trends of self-denial and sensual austerity that seem to be perniciously popular in certain circles, what you get is the animal part of you gorging on ice cream and chips, the zombie waiting for its Hot Pocket.  binge1Or, if my uneasy hunch is correct, you get a glassy-eyed Maud swerving into the parking lot of the Quik-e-Mart at 2:30 in the morning, clad in a nighty and one bedroom slipper.  Her unconscious self is on the hunt for prey–Ben and Jerry’s prey.

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