It's Okay If You're Not a Morning Person--Your Brain Probably Isn't Either!

Posted on February 7, 2017

Photo: flickr

Our bodies work in a cycle which affects almost everything that we do. Called circadian rhythms, these are daily biological "clocks" that puts us on a schedule. Circadian rhythms will tell our bodies when to eat or sleep and affect the various chemicals and hormones associated with it. They also dictate our ability to remember things. According to Andrea Smit, a PhD student from Simon Fraser University, circadian rhythms are what produces our chronotype, which is the extent to which we are either a morning person or a night person.

Smit uses her understanding of circadian rhythms and chronotypes to study how it affects memory performance. She used brain scans to study the relationship between chronotypes and our memories. Results indicate that "night owls" are worse at suppressing distracting visual information and have worse visual short-term memory in the morning. This suggests that our circadian rhythms influence memories at early stages of processing in the brain. So, if you're a night person and have trouble doing work in the morning, you could say that it's just having trouble with distractions.

To stabilize these effects, sleep is the answer. Previous research has shown that we have optimal memory performances after some shut-eye. It has to do with how sleeping is a period where our brains transfers information to the long-term memory. Consolidating memories is important in learning and retaining information. If one goes through sleep deprivation, this process will be disrupted and affect how well information is transferred. Thus, Smit warns to be careful with scheduled shifts. If our circadian rhythms are disrupted (due to reasons like jet lag) it accelerates memory loss. Working with our natural body rhythms and getting plenty of sleep is important!

Source material from Scientific American

Mental Health News