Scientists warn that humans are not meant to stay awake past midnight

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⇧ [VIDÉO] You may also like this partner’s content (after the ad). While it is certain that disrupted sleep will affect our days to come, the evidence for the changes in cognition and behavior that occur during night waking is not yet clear. Based on this, the researchers propose a hypothesis in order to highlight the problems caused, and encourage other studies on the subject. Called “The Mind After Midnight,” the US researchers’ hypothesis suggests that when we are awake during the “night” phase of the biological circadian rhythm (after midnight for most people), changes occur in neurophysiological events. in the brain, promoting behavioral dysregulation and psychiatric disorders. Indeed, some researchers have previously shown that circadian rhythms influence human physiology and behavior. These rhythms promote wakefulness and cognition during the day, while reducing cortical activity for sleep at night. Not surprisingly, disturbed sleep increases the risk of onset and worsening of psychiatric illness, and this risk may derive in part from nocturnal awakening (during the “circadian night”). During the biological night, cognitive ability and mood regulation are impaired, likely due to circadian rhythm influences. Impulsive and maladaptive behaviors increased at night “There are millions of people who are awake in the middle of the night, and there’s pretty strong evidence that their brains don’t work as well as they do during the day,” neurologist Elizabeth said in a statement. . Klerman, co-author of the study. According to the researchers, nocturnal changes favor negative emotions, but also an increase in impulsive and maladaptive behaviors. Data were examined for four of these behaviors: suicide/self-harm, violent crime, substance use, and eating behavior. Previous research has shown that the risks associated with these behaviors increase at night. “For example, a previously abstinent heroin user who successfully manages cravings during the day may experience stronger cravings and less resistance at night,” the authors report. “The allure of heroin use becomes more desirable and satisfying than the potential costs, and a single impulsive decision leads to relapse.” In 2020, research conducted at a supervised drug use center in Brazil revealed a 4.7 times greater risk of opioid overdose at night. Another example is a college student who experiences insomnia, which causes him to ruminate on his past negative relationship experiences. As the sleepless nights pile up, he may experience a sense of hopelessness and helplessness that may lead to suicide. Some studies report a three times greater risk of suicide between midnight and 6 a.m. compared to any other time of day. Some of these behaviors could be explained simply by lack of sleep, but there are likely nocturnal neurological changes related to the circadian rhythm. In addition to increased negative affect at night, increased dopamine production during this time could alter the reward system and increase the likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors. This biased interpretation of information is then transmitted to decision-making parts of the brain, which normally strive to control negative emotional distractions and focus on goal-directed behavior. Validate the hypothesis to help stakeholders However, the researchers’ hypothesis builds on previous research and aims to call attention to future empirical validation. “To test the Mind after Midnight hypothesis, data must be collected during the biological night (including the use of protocols that do not induce sleep loss),” the authors write. Future work may also help distinguish the effects of prolonged wakefulness from those of abrupt nocturnal awakening, as well as distinctions between sleep loss and circadian processes. The results of this study could have important implications for people who work night shifts, including healthcare workers and military personnel. It would also help sufferers sleep through the night, thereby reducing their exposure to periods of high risk due to behavioral dysregulation. Source: Frontiers in Network Psychology
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