Home » Mind After Midnight: A Hypothesis That Shows Why The Human Brain Shouldn’t Be Wake After Midnight

Mind After Midnight: A Hypothesis That Shows Why The Human Brain Shouldn’t Be Wake After Midnight

by Coffee Table Science
Researchers from the Mass General Research Institute, U.S., have developed a new hypothesis called ‘Mind After Midnight’ that suggests the human brain is not meant to awake after midnight. They have reported that a waking mind is more conscious of negative thoughts than positive ones after midnight. 

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Mind After Midnight

Researchers discovered that being awake during the biological circadian night (after midnight) results in neurophysiological changes in the brain. This causes humans to interact with the world differently, especially in actions related to information processing, impulse control and reward processing. They view everything more negatively, make impulsive decisions and involve in harmful activities.

Previous studies have shown that humans are more likely to involve in harmful behaviours such as violence, crime, suicide and drug use during the night. Also, they are more likely to consume unhealthy food such as fats, carbohydrates and processed food after dark. 

The study authors noted a biological cause behind these unusual behaviours. According to Dr Elizabeth Klerman, an investigator in the Department of Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital, our circadian rhythms change over a period of 24 hours a day. Due to this, people look at things differently during day and night. 

The researchers added that positive affect –the ability to see things with positivity is higher during the morning. This is because circadian influences are tuned to wakefulness. In parallel, negative affect- the ability to see things with negativity is higher at night. This is because circadian influences are tuned to sleep

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More Attentive to Negative Stimuli At Night

Human bodies produce dopamine at night which can change their motivation system and engage them in harmful behaviours. Due to this, their inclination to negative stimuli becomes worsened during the night.

To explain this point, researchers came up with two examples. The first example was the heroin addict who could stop his cravings during the day but surrenders to his desires at night. The second example was of a college student who was suffering from insomnia. He started feeling a sense of loneliness and hopelessness at night. 

Both the scenarios could ultimately prove lethal. The study linked night-time with risky behaviours.

Klerman hopes their hypothesis will lead to further studies on how night and day differences can impact decision-making and human behaviour. The researchers added that their understanding of how the brain works after midnight could lead to discoveries to resist crimes and prevent suicides. 

“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 Klerman. “My plea is for more research to look at that, because their health and safety, as well as that of others, is affected.”

The detailed study has been published in Frontiers in Network Psychology.

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