Confessions of a nocturnal fridge raider

In the last few years, something strange has happened to my greed. It’s shifted later and later until it manifested itself in the twilight hours. I have, in short, become a nocturnal bottomless pit. And apparently, I am not the only one. It is only when I begun to write this post, that I saw how much has been written on sleep eating in the last year. Is it a modern epidemic? The ultimate act of greedy consumerism (with emphasis on the consuming.)

Illustration by Daisy Wallis

This happens to me at least once a week and I am dang curious as to WHY. I do not suffer from restless legs or sleep apnea and I never go to bed hungry. Unlike some more radical sleep eating cases, I do not awake surrounded by biscuit membranes and sweetie litter and have to deduce what I have eaten from the detritus (though my boyfriend has teased an empty packet out from under me, whilst bed bound, on numerous occasions). I have – which is probably even worse – total awareness of what I am doing. I am not asleep; though I am sleepy.

Me and my pie-hole have never been asleep for very long, before we totter to the kitchen between 1 and 3am. I always crave sweet things (apparently this is common) and am a lot less discerning (read: fussy) when asleep. Where I don’t like Haribo during the day, I will scarf the entire family bag in 5 minutes flat a la nuit. I eat rapidly – impatiently even (as befitting the zombies on The Returned) and am capable of eating a lot more in one sitting than during the day. Where 6 biscuits back-to-back might seem a somewhat heroic effort during the day, come nighttime, those 6 Oreos – or half a box of chocolate truffles – positively charge down the gullet followed by a 20-strong-cola-bottle chaser in less than five minutes flat.

In the morning, I will not immediately remember said solo midnight feast, though seeing as I quite often wake up bloated and very thirsty, it doesn’t take long to recall. I immediately berate myself, though I feel nothing but empathy for the woman who devours 2,500 calories per night, with no control over it. Whilst the Huff Post article that I linked above is chocca (pun intended) with cases far more serious than my own (some people imbibe toxic and uncooked foodstuffs, as well as developing acute eating disorders), one lady named Mary neatly summarises this lack of ‘real life’ responsibility when night-time bingeing. “You don’t care if you eat 100 cookies”, she says. Oh Mary, TELL me about it. My stomach doesn’t register normal signals during the night and your sleep-addled self certainly doesn’t care if it gives your daytime self a biscuit baby for the entire next day.

However, rather than keep it as my guilty little secret, I am happily revolted by my odd little quirk and wish to share it with people – poor souls. Like riding a unicycle (*proud face*), I like to think of it as one of my idiosyncratic talents. It does, of course, strike me as faintly depressing that the sum total of my irresponsible thrill-seeking (in lieu of sky jumping, rollercoasters and other high jinks) concerns the fridge, at night. It’s also something that I wish I could control; namely because if I’m going to eat junk food I’d rather be compos mentis  enough to enjoy it.

There is a danger, of course, when I am at other people’s houses, that it may even be their fridge that I raid. If you are my friend reading this, I have probably raided your fridge. If you lived in university halls with me – sorry, I probably raided your fridge, too. Whilst staying with my boyfriend’s parents’ last year, I paid numerous visits down to their pantry, to slice off slivers of a cake which I had made them, during the night.

I didn’t count that as one of life’s personal highs. But equally, I’m learning to accept it. If my boyfriend, or flatmate, brings home a packet of something delicious, they know they are at risk of me devouring it like a narcoleptic Pacman. But ultimately, as I said, like riding a unicycle, it’s really a talent to be (ahem) proud of.

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