- Lesley Cusack, 55, says she has Nocturnal Sleep-Related Eating Disorder
- Binges after dark and cannot remember what she has eaten until next day
- She will chop and even cook foods including poached eggs and toast
- She has also eaten Vaseline, cough syrup and even emulsion paint
- Broke several teeth one night and is worried about sustaining serious injury
05:03 EST, 23 April 2013
06:24 EST, 23 April 2013
A woman claims she eats up to 2,500 calories a night in her sleep because she suffers from a rare disorder.
Lesley Cusack, 55, believes she suffers from Nocturnal Sleep-Related Eating Disorder (NSRED) â€“ and is forced to stick to a strict diet in the day because of her nocturnal eating habits.
The mother-of-three, from Warrington, Cheshire said: â€˜I can only tell [what Iâ€™ve eaten] by the remains in the morning. I tend to find opened tins of things or packets and Iâ€™ve no idea whether Iâ€™ve eaten some of them cold or not.
Lesley, 55, must eat a diet rich in fruit and vegetables during the day because she unconsciously eats junk food in her sleep
â€˜Sometimes Iâ€™ve found soup in pans, but also in bowls â€“ it all can get rather messy.
â€˜Iâ€™ve put alarms on my doors in the hope it will wake me up. It doesnâ€™t work though. I simply turn it off in my sleep.
â€˜Iâ€™m trying lose weight but itâ€™s a constant battle. I can follow a diet to the letter but it goes to pot at night.
Retired Lesley believes she has been suffering from the condition for several years but it is only now she has plucked up the courage to tell her family and seek medical help.
She said: â€˜At first, it wasnâ€™t too much of an issue and I vaguely remember having night terrors, where I would wake up and freeze then shoot out of the room only being stopped by my husband at the time.
â€˜I had started to find bits of mess downstairs, but I didnâ€™t realise it was me. It was quite a while before I worked it out, but when I did, I felt very embarrassed and guilty.
The mother-of-three must reserve morning fry-ups for special occasions because he has been known to rustle up a cooked breakfast in her sleep
WHAT IS NOCTURNAL SLEEP-RELATED EATING DISORDER (NSRED)?
The first reported case of NSRED was in 1955. Over the next 30 years only nine more cases of the behaviour were reported in the US.
Some experts believe that NSRED occurs as a result of the brain acting out wishes a person suppresses during the day.
Food consumed during an episode tends to be high in fat and sugar.
During a night feed, part of the brain is awake while the rest of it is asleep. The parts that regulate waking consciousness are asleep, so the next day there are no memories of eating the night before.
Sufferers sometimes have a history of alcoholism, drug abuse, and sleep disorders other than NSRED as well as a history of sleep-walking, restless legs, and sleep apnoea.
A suffererâ€™s sleep is fragmented, and they are often tired when they wake.
Treatment usually starts with monitoring of brain activity whilst asleep. Sometimes medication is helpful, but sleeping pills should be avoided. They can makeÂ increase confusion and clumsiness during an episode that can lead to injury.
â€˜My children tell me now that they never really thought about it whilst they were young, except for when chocolate went missing. I would always try to buy it back to cover it up. Itâ€™s become a bit of a standing joke now.
â€˜There were times when I felt extremely depressed through trying to hide it.â€™
Over the years, her night time binges caused her to pile on the pounds.
â€˜Having no control made me feel as if everyone assumed I ate too much out of choice and often I would eat less when in peopleâ€™s company in the hope that they wouldnâ€™t judge me,â€™ she said.
Every night, Lesley goes to bed not knowing what she will find in the morning.
On one occasion she ate a whole bowl of fruit in one sitting and on one particular weekend, she woke up to find the cake slice covered in butter after using it to make cheese sandwiches.
â€˜The worst things that I know Iâ€™ve eaten are emulsion paint, Vaseline, cough syrup, raw potatoes and soap powder.
night I ate paint was the only time Iâ€™ve ever woken up. I can still
remember standing in the kitchen touching my mouth and being very
â€˜It took my a while to work out what it was. It was thick and horrible.
â€˜My bedding and night clothes are
constantly getting stained and need washing. Iâ€™m always finding a trail
of food leading downstairs into the kitchen and sometimes the lounge.
Lesley has been keeping a visual diary of her nocturnal habits. In this instance she has eaten an unusual combination of a satsuma, a banana, cherry tomatoes a Kit Kat and a Fudge bar
This photo provides evidence of a midnight meal comprising of beetroot, cottage cheese and pickled onions.
â€˜The disturbed nights, waking up exhausted with stomach cramps, feeling sick and finding food bits in and around the bed is all part of what has become almost normal for me!â€™
To help keep her weight down, Lesley has joined a slimming group and has banned certain foods, like chocolate, in the houseÂ but nothing works.
If she wants to give treats to her
grandchildren, she has to buy them on the day she visits them or ask
someone else to look after them for her.
Hazard: From this photo you can see that Lesley has attempted to poach eggs, which would require using a cooker in her sleep
Her condition has also left her terrified of staying at friendsâ€™ houses.
â€˜It has made it very hard for me to do so and I usually take stuff in my bag in the hope it stops me going downstairs and rifling through their cupboards.â€™
For the past few months, she has been keeping a diary of her nocturnal activities and takes photos of the remains of her midnight feasts to show doctors.
Lesley, who lives alone, said: â€˜What made me seek help after all these years of hiding it was when I found that I was going to my freezer outside in the shed. I was terrified at the thought of leaving the door open or having an accident outside.
Holiday hell: Lesleyâ€™s condition makes staying with friends difficult because she is frightened she will raid their kitchen too
â€˜I broke several teeth the other night but I have no idea how. Iâ€™ve also found Iâ€™m waking up with more and more bruises. Using the cooker, kettle and sharp knives means itâ€™s only a matter of time before something more serious happens.â€™
Doctors have been left baffled by Lesleyâ€™s sleep disorder and she is now hoping to be referred to a specialist.
â€˜Living with something that no one sees but that affects my life so much is sometimes impossible to cope with.
â€˜There have got to be more people struggling with this condition. I canâ€™t be the only person.â€™
Dr Paul Reading, Consultant Neurologist at James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, and President of the British Sleep Society, said: â€˜Benign sleep walking is a common phenomenon in childhood which usually disappears during early adolescence.
â€˜However, around one per cent of adults will continue to exhibit complex activities (parasomnias) that arise from the deepest stages of sleep shortly after dropping off. Recollection of any behaviours the next morning is invariably absent or, at best, vague.
â€˜A proportion of adult sleep-walkers will eat and even cook during apparent sleep, often consuming foods they would not normally enjoy. Weight gain and guilt are common consequences.
â€˜Sometimes, factors that fragment sleep such as severe snoring, restless legs, an uncomfortable environment, or general stress may trigger complex sleep-walking, including sleep-eating.
â€˜Drug treatments before bed are sometimes both justified and successful.â€™