Eating during normal times for sleep may be harmful to memory according to a study presented at Neuroscience 2014 conference in Washington DC today.
Research in mice by academics at the University of California Los Angeles found that mice that ate during a normal time of sleep had their sleep time altered. Even when they slept for the same amount and the amount of food eaten and their weight was unaffected, these mice had impaired memory.
Additionally, the researchers found that the way that the hippocampus – a brain region playing a key role in learning and memory – was functioning in these mice was altered. This research could have implications for shift workers or other people whose normal sleep patterns are disturbed.
Alzheimer’s Society comment:
Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development at Alzheimer’s Society, said:
‘A good night’s sleep is one of life’s great pleasures. Research has previously linked disturbances in sleep with increased risk of dementia, however this study only found short-term memory effects from disturbed sleep patterns, so the implications for dementia are unclear.
More research is needed to understand the long-term effects and whether they apply to disturbed sleep patterns alone or whether altered eating times are crucial to the disruption to normal memory. It is still unclear whether sleep disturbances increase dementia risk, though we do know that regular exercise, eating a healthy diet and not smoking helps keep your brain healthy.’