You were out late with your buddies or worked overtime. Your travel schedule is all out of whack. Whatever the case may be, you’ve probably munched on some late night snacks. Not only is late night eating bad for your gut, it may actually be worse for your brain.
A new University of California study finds that late night eating can negatively affect the hippocampus, the area of the brain that forms memories.
The study used mice, allowing some mice to eat at night while others ate during the day. They were allowed to eat throughout a six-hour window depending on their day or night schedule. Researchers would mildly shock the mice after they ate.
The mice that ate during hours they normally slept showed a natural fear response, which means they remembered the shock. The mice that ate during their usual waking hours were less likely to react. In other words, the first group of mice basically forgot they had been shocked the last time they ate at that hour.
The study discovered that digesting food when the mice were supposed to be asleep affected their long-term memory and mental function. Researchers believe it’s because these mice had lower levels of a protein called CREB, which is necessary for the body’s internal clock and the brain’s capacity to form memories.
MP’s Take: This study shows that eating normal meals at the wrong time of day can really have a negative effect on our brains. However, this study was done on mice and not humans so it’s hard to say it would affect us the same way. However, if you’re a late night person, you should probably pay attention to these kinds of studies in the future.