Night Eating Syndrome (NES) is a disorder in which an individual consumes over 25% of their daily caloric intake after their evening meal, particularly after awakening in the middle of the night. A new pilot study, treated 15 otherwise healthy adults who suffered from Night Eating
Syndrome with bright light therapy as a means of curtailing nighttime awakenings and aberrant eating behavior.
The study exposed the subjects to 60 minutes of 10,000 lux light therapy lamps each morning for a period of 2 weeks. This bright light therapy schedule is already a common treatment for a variety of circadian disorders, particularly Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and Delayed Sleep
Phase Syndrome. At the end of the trial, “significant reductions were found pre-to-post treatment in night eating symptomatology, mood disturbance, and sleep disturbance.”
The researchers note that, in addition to improvements in nighttime eating behavior, “statistically significant improvements were also noted for morning mood, morning anxiety, and evening anxiety ratings from pre-to-post treatment.”
Though the pilot study was too small to reach a definitive conclusion, it does provide “preliminary support for the efficacy of [Bright Light Therapy] for the treatment of night eating syndrome.”
McCune, Ashley M. and Jennifer D. Lundgren, “Bright light therapy for the treatment of night eating syndrome: A pilot study.” Psychiatry Research, Volume 229, Issues 1–2, 30 September 2015, Pages 577-579.