MGH Study Finds Our Brains Change When We're Awake After Midnight

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BOSTON (WBZNewsRadio) - A new study from researchers at Mass. General Hospital found sticking to a reasonable bedtime has never been more important.

The study looked at the effects on the human brain if it stays awake past midnight. They found neurophysiological changes in the brain that alter the way we might interact with the world, especially actions related to reward processing, impulse control and information processing. They also found those who stayed away into the early morning hours are associated with an increased risk of suicide, violent behaviors, the use of alcohol and drugs, gambling, and higher food intake.

“There are millions of people who are awake in the middle of the night, and there’s fairly good evidence that their brain is not functioning as well as it does during the day,” said 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. “My plea is for more research to look at that, because their health and safety, as well as that of others, is affected.”

Researchers did say that while the brain is pre-programmed for wakefulness during the day and sleep at night, the "mind after midnight" hypothesis doesn't apply to everyone. We all know a couple people, those so-called "night owls" who tend to be more productive after the sun goes down.

WBZ NewsRadio's Shari Small (@ShariSmallNews) reports:

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