NewsAug | 2 | 2022
Researchers Call for New Studies to Learn How Our Brains Change When We're Awake After Midnight
If you’ve ever stayed up late angrily commenting on Twitter posts, eating a whole pint of ice cream out of the container, finishing another bottle of wine, or just feeling miserable, you might identify with the Mind After Midnight hypothesis.
The hypothesis, which was detailed in a recent paper in Frontiers in Network Psychology, suggests that when humans are awake during the biological circadian night—after midnight for most people—there are neurophysiological changes in the brain that alter the way we interact with the world, especially actions related to reward processing, impulse control and information processing.
These changes can make you more likely to view the world negatively, engage in harmful behaviors, and make impulsive decisions (including those associated with addictive behaviors such as gambling and substance abuse) without fully thinking through the consequences.
dquo;The basic idea is that from a high level, global, evolutionary standpoint, your internal biological circadian clock is tuned towards processes that promote sleep, not wakefulness, after midnight,” says Elizabeth B . Klerman, MD, PhD, an investigator in the Department of Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital, Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and the senior author of the paper.
Klerman describes the hypothesis as a call for researchers to conduct new studies to better understand how these circadian differences affect behavior, decision-making and job performance at night—and identify strategies that can help people cope.
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