In a world afflicted with increasing stress at work and crazy office shifts, round-the-clock snacking has become a norm. However, a new study conducted on mice and published in the online open-access journal eLife, suggests that such eating habits can affect the hippocampal area of the brain. This resulted in memory and learning deficiencies in the tested mice. Scientists at the Semel Institute in the David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) were already aware that eating at inappropriate hours had adverse effects on metabolism. But they wanted to establish a definitive relationship between such a habit, and cognitive learning.

“We have provided the first evidence that taking regular meals at the wrong time of day has far-reaching effects for learning and memory. Since many people find themselves working or playing during times when they’d normally be asleep, it is important to know that this could dull some of the functions of the brain.”

Dawn H. Loh (First Author) from the UCLA Laboratory of Circadian and Sleep Medicine on

Although the study on mice does not necessarily imply that the effects may be the same on humans, the researchers emphasize the fact that late-night shift workers do reflect a lower cognitive score in several other human studies too. Certain nerve impulses may be weakened as a result of eating so late at night. In addition, sleep gets disrupted, with the brain unable to differentiate between night and day, leading to circadian rhythm disorders and broken sleep cycles.

Does your work involve late-night shifts? Have you been feeling tired and having difficulty getting sound sleep lately. Do you frequently snack at odd hours through the night? If so, you may be suffering from a disordered circadian rhythm that can cause more health problems for you. For queries on how to protect yourself from the ill-effects of late-night shift work and how to identify if you have a sleep disorder, ask a doctor for free health advice now.




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