Sarah Carter*, 34, would wake up in a bed full of cake.
She would have no memory of eating and yet be surrounded by evidence that said otherwise. Sarah, like many others, suffers from sleep-related eating disorder (SRED).
“I would wake up with cake in the bed, cereal, bread, peanut butter,” she said.
Sleep-related eating disorder is a parasomnia (category of sleep disorder) where individuals will help themselves to food before waking up with little to no recollection of doing so. Foods chosen by sufferers can range from smoothies to buttered cigarettes.
Sarah described how her episodes occurred during periods where she was dieting.
“It used to happen every time I would be on a very calorie restrictive diet,” she said.
Individuals who suffer from SRED are more common than you think. One study suggested it affected nearly five percent of the general population, and around nine to 17 percent of those suffering from an eating disorder.
The cause of the disorder remains unknown.
Sarah became so desperate to stop her behaviour, she resorted to applying duct tape to her fridge.
"I only did it once, and that worked, oddly. Like, it woke me up," she said.
Injuries from sleep-eating are common. It has been reported that sufferers have woken up with cuts from knives and dental issues from trying to eat frozen food.
An online account shared how a sufferer had been jolted from their sleep after she burnt her hand making a grilled cheese sandwich.