It can affect your memory
. The study, from from the University of California, found that eating at irregular hours – such as late at night – had the potential to impact cognitive functions. Over a period of two weeks, researchers fed one group of mice – nocturnal animals – during the day while the other group were fed at night like usual.
They then tested the ability of the mice to distinguish new objects in their cage. The mice with the disrupted eating habits showed a lesser ability to recognise new objects than the mice who continued to eat as usual. In addition, they also found that the ability to create long-term memories was damaged in the mice who were being fed during the day.
It makes you have weird dreams.
Tore Nielsen and Russell Powell asked almost 400 university students to fill in a questionnaire about the diet, sleep, and dream experiences and found that 18 per cent believed food has the ability to “render their dreams more bizarre or disturbing.”
Alongside eating too much of certain kinds of foods (dairy products and spicy meals), Nielsen and Powell found that eating late at night was also to blame for the confusing dreams. They said this could be because late night snacking can often lead to gastrointestinal discomfort which in turn can cause difficulty sleeping.
It increases the risk of a heart attack
Researchers from Dokuz Eylül University assessed more than 700 adults with high blood pressure in order to find out whether different eating times made a difference to their health.
They found that eating dinner late at night had the most significant impact on overnight blood pressure while eating with two hours of going to sleep did more damage than indulging in a high salt content diet.
24.2 per cent of those who ate dinner within two hours of going bed suffered from high blood pressure which did not drop sufficiently overnight, compared with 14.2 per cent of those who ate their evening meal earlier.
Dr Ebru Özpelit, associate professor of cardiology, at the university said: “We must define the ideal frequency and timing of meals because how we eat may be as important as what we eat.
“Eating breakfast is important, we should have a strong breakfast, we shouldn’t skip lunch. We must have a small dinner and it mustn’t be later than 7 o’clock in the evening.”
It creates acid reflux
According to experts, eating late at night (especially heavy foods) and causes acid reflux.
Because your stomach takes a few hours to empty after a meal, physician Jamie Koufman says when you go to sleep it allows for the acid to spill out of your still full stomach and leak into your esophagus, leading to acid reflux.
Speaking to The New York Times in 2014, Koufman said: “The drugs we are using to treat reflux don’t always work, and even when they do, they can have dangerous side effects.
My patient’s reflux was a lifestyle problem. I told him he had to eat dinner before 7pm, and not eat at all after work. Within six weeks, his reflux was gone.”
It makes you hungrier the next day.
Eating late at night can have you feeling hungrier than usual when you wake up the next morning thanks to the insulin your pancreas releases after a meal.
This in turn produces more glucose which triggers a hormone called ‘ghrelin’, responsible for triggering hunger. Ghrelin usually uses the naturally occurring fast between around 8pm to 8am to reset itself, ensuring you only feel usual levels of hunger in the morning.
However, if you snack late at night, the cycle will still be ongoing and you will feel hungrier than usual, which could potentially lead to weight gain.