Flying for the holidays? Eating and sleeping on an odd schedule? Jet lag and disrupted sleep have already been shown to impede memory in both humans and mice, and trans fats have also been shown to "eat away" at memory, reports Time. Now UCLA researchers say they're seeing—at least in mice—a similar decline in memory when food is consumed during typical sleep hours. "Those animals that were misaligned show severe deficits in their recall of the training that they received," one researcher tells LiveScience.
Researchers divided the mice into two groups: one that ate on a normal schedule and one that ate during typical sleeping hours. Even though both groups were given the same amount of food and sleep, the mice who were eating when they would normally be asleep appeared not to recognize objects they'd already explored, and even displayed less fear of objects both groups had been conditioned to fear. Researchers also found that the strength of neural connections suffered among the population with a misaligned eating schedule, meaning they not only recalled less quickly but learned less quickly, too. (Midnight snacking is also bad for your teeth.)