Afternoon napping promotes cognitive function in the elderly: Study
Among the elderly, habitual as well as non-habitual afternoon nappers show an improved cognitive function according to a study published in General Psychiatry.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, an afternoon nap of around 20-30 minutes is best for boosting alertness and mental performance, without interfering with nighttime sleep. The new study, however, suggests that an afternoon nap of around 1 hour is ideal for improving cognitive functioning among older adults. In addition to this study there have been several studies in the past that have shown that afternoon napping promotes cognitive function in the elderly; on the other hand, some studies have shown opposite results.
A study was conducted by a group of Chinese researchers to further examine the relationship between afternoon napping and cognitive function in the aging Chinese population.
The researchers selected a total of 2214 elderly were included (napping group: n=1534; non-napping group: n=680).
They all received cognitive evaluations by the Beijing version of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, the Mini-Mental State Examination, and the Chinese version of the Neuropsychological Test Battery.
Among all the subjects, 739 elderly volunteered to take blood lipid tests.
The results of the study are as follows:
- Significant differences in cognitive function and blood lipids were observed between the napping and the non-napping groups.
- Afternoon napping was associated with better cognitive function including orientation, language, and memory in the present study.
- Subjects with the habit of afternoon napping also showed a higher level of triglyceride than the non-napping subjects.
- Through this prospective intervention study, both habitual and non-habitual nappers performed better on long-term memory tasks after an afternoon nap as compared to controls.
- Habitual nappers demonstrated improved performance on both short and long-term memory tasks following an afternoon nap as compared to those who remained awake
The researchers concluded that as per the results afternoon napping was related to better cognitive function in the Chinese ageing population.
A study titled, "Relationship between afternoon napping and cognitive function in the aging Chinese population" by Cai H et. al published in the General Psychiatry.