late night eating bad for brain

Why Midnight Snacking May Be Bad For Your Brain

Are you having trouble remembering things from last night? It might be because of the late night snacking that you’ve been doing. Turns out, midnight snacking might cause your organs to shift their internal clock.

Recent neuroscience research by a team from the University of California Los Angeles has found that late night eating patterns can mess with the brain’s ability to form new tasks. The study, which hasn’t been published yet, although done in mice, found that the timing of eating can have an effect on biological rhythms and behavior.

What The Group Did:

The study involved two different groups of mice. One group of mice received food during their normal waking hours (which is actually at night for mice). The other group received food during the day when they were supposed to be asleep. What ended up happening was the group eating during times they should be sleeping had a decrease in activity when they were supposed to be awake and an increase in activity when they were supposed to be asleep.

The researchers then looked at different organs throughout the body and found that the hippocampus, the liver, and the adrenal glands had all shifted their internal time keeping functionality because of the change in eating behavior. The hippocampus is responsible for memory and learning so the researchers then took both groups and looked at which group could learn and form memories better. The group with the normal eating schedule (and normal activity period) showed a better learning and memory forming ability than the group with the misaligned eating schedule.

What This Means For Humans:

Although the study was done in mice, this study can have important implications in humans as well – especially those people such as nurses, doctors, first responders, and other people that work through the night. Research already hints that working through the night is a risk factor that increases the risk of diabetes, heart diseases, dementia, and cancer.

Now researcher’s are curious if different types of diet have an effect on memory through the night (high fat vs low fat etc.) to see if a certain type of diet, can strengthen the body’s internal clock.


Hoffman, A. “Midnight Snacking Is Bad For Your Brain.” The Smithsonian. 17 February 2015. Web. 25 February 2015.


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