Eating late at night, especially during the hours when our bodies think they should be sleeping, could disrupt learning and memory.
The results of the study may pose a possible health concern not only for those eating late at night but for the millions who are engaged in shift work.
“We have this illusion that with the flip of a switch, we can work at any time and part of that is eating at any time,” Christopher Colwell, professor, psychiatry and bio-behavioural sciences, University of California said.
Although the new research was done on mice, the general principles also apply to humans, the Inquisitr reported.
The modern lifestyle of working long hours does not allow the body’s need to stick with a specific schedule to remain healthy.
The circadian rhythm follows a 24-hour cycle and regulates almost everything in our body, including hormones and behaviour. Any disruption of this cycle may not only be harmful for the immune system but even lead to type 2 diabetes, Colwell suggested.
Referring to jet-lag, the author demonstrates how such a disruption may affect the brain function.
In the experiment, the researchers allowed one group of mice to eat at normal times, while a second group could only eat during their normal sleep time.
The mice eating during their normal sleeping times were “severely compromised” in remembering what they had learned.
They also had trouble recognising new objects and showed changes in the part of the brain that involved learning and memory.