Many people love to take a small sleeping nap in the afternoon. In the US, nearly one-third of the population loves to take a nap, calling it an essential part to rest and recharge the body. On the other side, some people may consider it unhelpful and a disturbance in their regular sleeping schedule. However, a new study has revealed that an afternoon nap improves the cognition and performance of a person.
This research published in the journal General Psychiatry reveals that regularly taking an afternoon nap is directly linked with improved agility. It makes a person more aware of his surroundings, improve his verbal communications, memory, and focus.
Nearly 1 in every 10 people in the developed countries have dementia, Alzheimer or a related condition. All of these conditions are linked with neurodegeneration, which sometimes shows up due to age. While people move to an older age, everything inside their body, including their skin, bone density, and functions is affected. At this point, the sleep cycle is also affected which explains why older age people have unusual sleeping routines.
Although there is no research that reveals the role of an afternoon nap in lowering the risk of cognitive decline and eventually dementia in old age people, there is a possibility.
The current study investigated 2214 nearly healthy people who were around 60 years of age and lived-in developed cities in China. Nearly 1534 of these people had a regular habit of taking an afternoon nap and 680 participants didn’t have this habit.
All participants were monitored and assessed for cognitive functions which included a Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE) to identify dementia. Both groups, nap takers and non-nap takers reported approximately 6.5 hours of average sleep every day.
In this study, an afternoon nap was considered to be a small resting and sleeping phase between five minutes to two hours, after eating lunch. All of the participants were asked to explain their napping habits between once a week to daily napping.
The screening test for dementia included nearly 30 items inside to judge a person’s cognitive levels, functions, memory, attention, awareness, visuospatial skills as well as verbal fluency.
This MMSE score was relatively high in people who used to take an afternoon nap daily as compared to other people who didn’t nap. The test reported major differences in terms of cognitive functions including verbal fluency, work memory, and locational awareness.
But the limitation to this study is that it is based on observations alone. There is no way to determine a cause in this difference in results. Also, there was no information provided on the time as well as the duration of these naps which participants were taking. All this information is important to predict the changes which napping can make inside a human body.
The research team assumes that probably it is because of the inflammation which sometimes causes disrupted sleep and sleep-related disorder. regulating sleep improves the immunity of the body and napping, if caused by inflammation, reports an underlying inflammation making people take more naps. In any way, more research is needed to explain this link between inflammation and napping habits.