Sleep disorders like sleepwalking and night eating syndrome can be lessened or prevented with a healthy diet and lifestyle. While sleepwalking is common in childhood, it can also occur in adulthood. Genetics, environmental and medical factors may be involved in the development of sleepwalking. There are cases of sleep eating where people end up in the kitchen eating in the process of sleepwalking. Night eating syndrome is a condition where at least 25 to 50% of the daily calories are consumed after dinner on a regular basis.
Occasional snacking after dinner or late in the evening is not a problem, especially if healthy meals like fruits or nuts are consumed. It becomes a problem when it is done on a regular basis and heavy foods like starches, greasy, sugary foods are consumed. This can cause digestive problems and disrupt sleep, offset the body’s biological clock and the body’s ability to rest, repair and recharge during the nighttime. Instead of healing and recharging the body during sleep hours, it will be busy digesting and assimilating nutrients. Eating late at night also usually leads to weight gain and makes it harder to lose weight. While the cause of the condition is not clear, it is more prevalent in those who are obese, those suffering from anxiety and depression, and higher leptin levels in the body.
Sleepwalking can be a genetic trait inherited from a relative and occurs more frequently in identical twins. Other possible causes of sleepwalking are sleep deprivation, stress, chaotic sleep schedules, alcohol intoxication, drugs, and stimulants. Medical conditions such as fever, arrhythmias, nighttime asthma, gastroesphageal reflux, sleep apnea, seizures, and psychiatric disorders like posttraumatic stress disorder and multiple personality disorder have been linked to sleepwalking.
A healthy diet and lifestyle balance the body and mind and may prevent sleep disorders like night eating syndrome and sleepwalking. It helps to eat balanced and healthy meals for breakfast lunch and dinner and to stay away or lessen stimulants like coffee, cigarettes, and alcohol. Drinking chamomile tea before going to bed may help soothe and calm the nerves. As much as possible, processed foods, greasy and fried foods, white flour, sugar, and simple carbohydrates should be avoided. These can cause sugar levels to spike and drop, leading to late night hunger. Regular exercise regulates the blood sugar and blood pressure and aids in better digestion, calorie burning, and better and deeper sleep.