Inspired living

Does midnight snacking affect you memory?

Woman looking through her fridge at night

Credit: 123RF

The 24/7 world we live in means that we are often doing things that our body’s haven’t really evolved to do. One of those things is snacking late at night when you are either up working or using your technology for entertainment. As a new study has shown however, those midnight snacks might not just be adding to your waistline, they could be harming your memory.

Midnight snacks might not just be adding to your waistline, they could be harming your memory.

In the new study researchers tested the ability of mice to recognise a new object. They found that mice regularly fed during their usual sleep time were less able to remember the object and that long term memory was also significantly reduced. The researchers also put forward a theory as to why memory might be harmed by those late night fridge raids.

Both long term memory and the ability to recognise a new object are governed by a part of the brain called the hippocampus. Additionally, some genes involved in your body clock and memory formation are regulated by a protein called CREB (cAMP response element binding protein). When CREB is less active it decreases memory. In mice fed at the wrong time the total activity of CREB throughout the hippocampus was significantly reduced. On top of this, the master controller of your body clock, the suprachiasmatic nucleus, located in the hippocampus, is not affected by the late night snacking with the result that there is a desynchronisation between the body clock and different brain regions.

One thing seems clear, that midnight snack is not a mind-night snack.


Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.