Scientists have called for new research to find out how our brains change when we wake up after midnight

Summary: The new hypothesis suggests that humans’ biological circadian night wakes up with neurophysiological changes in the brain that alter how we interact with the world, particularly in impulse control, information processing, and reward processing.

A source: Mass General

Whether you’re angrily commenting on Twitter posts, eating a pint of ice cream out of a container, finishing another bottle of wine, or just feeling down, you may be familiar with the After Midnight Mind Hypothesis.

Hypothesis, this is a recently published article Frontiers in Network PsychologyWhen humans wake up during the biological circadian night—after midnight for most people—neurophysiological changes occur in the brain that alter how we interact with the world, especially activities related to reward processing, impulse control, and information processing.

These changes make you more likely to view the world negatively, engage in unhealthy behaviors, and make impulsive decisions without fully considering the consequences (including those associated with addictive behaviors such as gambling and drug abuse).

“The basic idea, from a high-level, global, evolutionary perspective, is that your internal biological circadian clock is tuned to promote sleep, not wakefulness after midnight,” says Elizabeth B. Klerman, MD, Ph.D., an investigator in the Department of Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital, a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, and the paper’s senior author.

Klerman describes the hypothesis as a challenge for researchers to conduct new research to better understand how these circadian differences affect behavior, decision-making and work performance at night – and to identify strategies to help people cope.

The findings could have broad implications for people who need to stay awake at night for work, including pilots, medical workers, police officers and military personnel. The findings may also lead to new strategies to reduce violent crime, substance use disorders, suicide, and other harmful behaviors.

“There are millions of people who wake up in the middle of the night, and there’s good evidence that their brains aren’t working as well as they do during the day,” says Klerman. “My request is that more research is needed to look at this because of the impact on their health and safety, as well as the health of others.”

Bad things happen after dark

Previous research has shown that people are more likely to engage in harmful behaviors such as suicide, violent crime and drug use at night.

For example, Michael L. Perlis, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at UPenn’s Perelman School of Medicine and co-author of the Mid After Midnight hypothesis, suggests that if you adjust for the number of people awake at any given time, suicide is statistically more likely during the nighttime hours.

Homicides and violent crimes are more common at night, as are the risks of illicit or misuse of substances such as cannabis, alcohol, and opioids.

Our late night food choices are also unhealthy as we eat more carbohydrates, lipids and processed foods and often consume more calories than we need.

So why does all this bad behavior come out at night?

There are a few obvious answers—first, it’s a lot easier to commit a crime under the cover of darkness, and there are fewer people around and awake at night to help us monitor our behavior. But it probably has a biological basis.

Klerman explains that circadian influences on neural activity in our brains change over a 24-hour period, leading to differences in how we process and react to the world.

For example, positive affect—the tendency to view information in a positive light—is highest in the morning, when circadian influences are aligned with wakefulness, and lowest at night, when circadian influences are aligned with sleep.

In parallel, the negative effect—the tendency to view information in a negative or threatening light—is greatest at night.

At night, your body naturally releases more dopamine, which alters your reward and motivation system and makes you more likely to engage in risky behavior.

This biased interpretation of information is typically felt in parts of the brain responsible for decision-making that work to control negative emotional distractions and focus on goal-directed behavior.

But these parts of the brain are also subject to changes due to circadian influences that can impair decision-making, performance and prioritization.

Suddenly, your worldview becomes narrow, negative, you start making bad decisions, and your mental map of the world around you may become unrealistic.

A result? You could end up drinking too much, miss an important patient diagnosis, crash the oil tanker into a rock, or worse.

Klerman experienced some of these feelings firsthand when he had trouble sleeping after experiencing severe jet lag on a trip to Japan.

“When some part of my brain knew I was finally going to sleep, I was just laying there watching the clock ticking down,” he recalls.

The findings may also lead to new strategies to reduce violent crime, substance use disorders, suicide, and other harmful behaviors. Image is in the public domain

“And then I said, ‘What if I’m a drug addict?’ I would try to bring drugs now.’ I later realized that this could also apply to suicidal tendencies or drug addiction or other impulse disorders, gambling, and other addictive behaviors. How can I prove this?”

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Hypothesis testing

The need for proof is important here. It’s important to note that Mind After Midnight is still a hypothesis – one that needs to be tested through carefully designed studies.

Ironically, the best way to collect this data without being confused by sleep loss requires researchers and researchers to stay up and work after midnight, for example, taking fMRI images of study participants whose sleep cycles are finely tuned. for night waking or other protocols.

“Most researchers don’t want to be on the job in the middle of the night. “Most researchers and technicians don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night,” Klerman admitted.

“But we have millions of people who have to stay awake at night or wake up involuntarily at night. Some of us have to be uncomfortable so that we can better prepare them, treat them, or do our best.”

It’s about sleep and psychology research news

Author: Press service
A source: Mass General
The connection: Press service – Mass General
Photo: Image is in the public domain

Original research: Open access.
“The Mind After Midnight: Nocturnal Waking, Conduct Disorder, and Psychopathology” by Andrew S. Tubbs et al. Frontiers in Network Physiology


The mind after midnight: Nocturnal awakenings, conduct disorders, and psychopathology

Adequate sleep with minimal disruption to the circadian/biological nighttime cycle supports daytime cognition and emotional regulation. Conversely, disturbed sleep, which includes nocturnal wakefulness, leads to cognitive and behavioral impairments.

Most research to date has examined how fragmented or insufficient sleep affects the next day’s functioning, but recent work highlights changes in cognition and behavior when someone wakes up during the night.

This review summarizes the evidence for day-night changes in maladaptive behaviors, including suicidality, violent crime, and drug use, and examines how mood, reward processing, and executive function differ during nighttime wakefulness.

Based on this evidence, we recommend Mind after midnight Hypothesize that attention, negative affect, reward processing, and prefrontal disinhibition contribute to conduct disorder and psychiatric illness.

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