Late-night eating linked to memory loss

Even if you can stick with them during the day, it’s a different ballgame when late-night hunger strikes. And if you give into the impulse to eat, a new report says that it could ruin more than just your diet.

According to the fascinating study, published in the journal eLife, that night-time raid on the fridge can damage the part of the brain used for critical learning and memory.

For the study, a group of researchers at UCLA fed two groups of mice at different times — one when they would normally be sleeping, and one when they would normally be up and about.

When each group’s memory was tested after feeding time, the mice that were fed during their normal sleep hours were less likely to recall a shock they’d been conditioned to fear just 24 hours prior — indicating an inability to commit something to their long-term memory. In contrast, the mice that got to eat during their normal feeding hours recalled the shock, and they remembered to be afraid of it.

The research suggests that tinkering around with the body’s natural circadian rhythms — not just when you sleep, but also when you eat — somehow reduces the levels of a protein in the hippocampus part of the brain called CREB, which is key to storing memory.

So even if it’s a healthy snack, the mere fact that it’s way past dinnertime is enough to change your brain chemistry.

Of course, more studies need to be done on humans to fully understand the potential implications for us — but it’s been well-established that midnight snacking and other off-schedule eating can mess with your metabolism and your heart health and even put you into a pre-diabetic state.

So, if you’re regularly heading to the fridge before heading to bed… or you’re waking up in the middle of the night with the munchies… try some of these simple tricks to get you back on schedule:

  • Set a regular bed time and regular meal times.
  • Eat meals that are high in protein and fibre to keep you feeling full for longer periods of time.
  • Try natural sleep supplements like L-theanine or 5-HTP — all proven to help you fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.

That way, you’ll be more likely to remember your dreams… and what you did the day before.

Wishing you the best of health,

Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Editor
Nutrition & Healing
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Sources:

“Midnight snacks are bad for your brain, study says,” The Daily Mail, Dec.

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