Current Obesity Reports

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 137–144 | Cite as

The Treatment of Night Eating Syndrome: A Review and Theoretical Model

  • Jillon S. Vander WalEmail author
Psychological Issues (M Hetherington and V Drapeau, Section Editors)


The treatment of night eating syndrome, a disorder characterized by evening hyperphagia, morning anorexia, and insomnia, continues to gain attention with its inclusion in the DSM-V. Known treatments for NES include pharmacological, phototherapy, weight loss and dietary, and psychological interventions, which, together with the syndrome’s clinical characteristics, support a treatment guiding biobehavioral model. The biobehavioral model proposes that a genetic predisposition, coupled with stress, enhances midbrain serotonin transporter (SERT) binding, which results in lower post-synaptic serotonin, dysregulating circadian rhythms and decreasing satiety. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors should therefore decrease SERT binding, increase postsynaptic serotonin, and restore circadian function and satiety regulation. Psychological interventions may be used to decrease stress as well as address insomnia and circadian rhythm disruptions. Dietary and behavioral interventions may produce beneficial changes in satiety as well as dysregulated eating. Avenues for future treatment outcome studies, including alternative pharmacological and combination therapies, are discussed.


Cognitive behavioral therapy Eating disorders Hyperphagia Bright light therapy Night eating syndrome Nocturnal ingestions Phototherapy Relaxation therapy Sleep initiation, Maintenance disorders Serotonin uptake inhibitors Sleep disorders 


Compliance with Ethics Guidelines

Conflict of Interest

Jillon S. Vander Wal declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologySaint Louis UniversitySt. LouisUSA

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