STUDY: The Brain Is Not Meant to Be Awake After Midnight

There’s a saying that “nothing good happens after midnight.” Now, researchers from Mass General Research Institute say there may be scientific evidence to back that claim up!

The team has created a new hypothesis that the human brain is not meant to be awake after midnight. Moreover, they say staying up late only leads to more impulsive behavior and high-risk decisions, such as drinking, overeating, gambling, or criminal activity.

Specifically, researchers suspect that staying awake during the biological circadian night (the middle of the night for most people) causes neurophysiological changes in the brain. This causes people to view the world more negatively than they do during the daytime.

Previous studies have found that people are more likely to engage in harmful behaviors during the night. Statistically, incidents of suicide, drug use, and violent crime are all more common at night. At the same time, people are also more likely to make unhealthy food choices after dark, including chowing down on more processed foods, fats, and carbohydrates.

Study authors admit that some of this is explainable without looking at a person’s brain. It’s obviously easier to commit crimes or get away with unhealthy habits under the cover of darkness — when there are simply fewer people around to catch you.

However, the team notes that there’s also a biological cause as well. Klerman explains that our circadian rhythms change over the course of a 24-hour day. Simply put, people look at things one way during the day and in a completely different way at night.

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