Investigators from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania recently presented new findings showing that when people eat less late at night, their ability to concentrate and maintain mental focus is not as disturbed by restricted sleep.
The scientists reported that 500 extra calories consumed late in the evening can have significant mental effects when people are sleep-deprived. Volunteers were given unlimited access to food and drink during the day but were allowed to sleep only four hours each night for three consecutive nights.
On the fourth night, some of the participants had access to food and drinks, while others were provided only water from 10 p.m. until they went to sleep at 4 a.m.
Cognitive tests performed on the fourth night at 2 a.m. showed that subjects who fasted performed better than those who had eaten during late-night hours.
These results are consistent with other work showing negative effects of late-night snacking. A 2013 investigation from the same group indicated that people with chronic sleep problems are more vulnerable to weight gain caused by greater calorie consumption late at night.
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