National Eating Disorders Association

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Sleep disturbances??

Hi! It‘s so frustrating. I‘ve never had sleeping issues; not even when I was very deep in my anorexia. Since starting „real“ recovery though, I keep waking up in the middle of the night, at around 3 am, unable to fall asleep again. Has anyone else exoerienced this? Why could this be?? I‘m so tired in the evening that I almost pass out, but my body seems to require only a few hours of sleep? This makes me extra tired during the day. It‘s really frustrating.

I had something like that, maybe

I never had sleeping problems in anorexia either --- I think I knew I couldn't both not eat and not sleep, and I just tried to get as much energy from sleeping as I could. I slept wonky after starting recovery too -- sometimes it was great, sometimes I would wake up in the middle of the night, sometimes I had so much energy I couldn't go to sleep at all. My thought is that it's just our bodies adjusting to different amounts of energy and re-regulating. Have you been in recovery for long? The other thing that used to happen to me all the time is that I'd wake up in the middle of the night starving. (Yay, refeeding...) I hated eating at night so much, but I would keep a small snack or something in my room to eat if I really needed it. I don't know whether that's a possibility for you or not, but those are my thoughts...

Hi fightingbee,

Eating disorders can cause hormone disregulation. Maybe, next time you talk to your doctor, tell them about it. I've got some issues related and I had to get some medication prescribed so my body functioned properly at night.

Hormones might be out of whack?

I have been experiencing this exact same thing and did a saliva hormone test. Found out that adrenal fatigue is a very real thing! Hormones, especially cortisol levels can get really messed up leading to sleep issues like yours. Make sure you talk to a doctor as there are lots of things to help get you with what's going on. Waking at 3 am consistently is sure no fun!

Dear fightingbee

We are sorry to hear you are experiencing sleep disturbances and want to encourage you to reach out to your physician. Here are signs and symptoms to keep an eye out for.The following are just some of the signs of a serious problem that demands immediate medical attention:

  • accidentally or deliberately caused themselves a physical injury
  • become suicidal
  • confused thinking and is not making any sense
  • delusions (false beliefs) or hallucinations (experiencing things that aren’t there)
  • disoriented; doesn’t know what day it is, where they are or who they are
  • vomiting several times a day or has uncontrollable vomiting or diarrhea
  • experiencing dizziness or fainting spells
  • too weak to walk or collapses
  • painful muscle spasms
  • experience pain in the lower legs
  • complaining of chest pain or having trouble breathing
  • blood in their bowel movements, urine or vomit
  • a body mass index (BMI) of less than 16
  • an irregular heartbeat, and fast heartbeat, or very low heart beat (less than 50 beats per minute)
  • cold or clammy skin indicating a low body temperature or has a body temperature of less than 35 degrees Celsius/95 degrees Fahrenheit
  • experience dizziness, nausea, fever
  • wounds/cuts heal slowly
  • feel tingling in the hands or feet
  • blurred vision

If you experience anything above, we highly recommend seeking help from a medical professional as soon as possible. Seek medical help soon on an outpatient basis if you:

  • have significant heartburn and/or a burning sensation after eating
  • have other gastrointestinal concerns
  • have high blood pressure
  • struggle with significant joint or muscle pain
  • have difficulty sleeping (falling and/or remaining asleep)
  • struggle with fatigue, sudden weight gain, and/or hair loss
  • have frequent urination or unquenchable thirst
  • have gained and lost significant weight repeatedly
  • have gained significant weight in a short period of time
  • struggle with chronic diarrhea or constipation

If you need help finding other resources and support please do not hesitate to call our confidential NEDA Helpline 800.931.2237 M-Th 11am-9pm ET and F 11am-5pm ET or chat with us online M-Th 9am-9pm ET and F 9am-5pm ET. Stay well and take care!

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