Regular afternoon naps could help stave off dementia

January 27, 2021
Regular afternoon naps could help stave off dementia

Scientists studying mental health have found a significant relationship between consistent afternoon napping and cognitive function in the ageing Chinese population. Napping may not entirely prevent neurodegenerative conditions such as dementia, but may promote locational awareness, verbal fluency, and working memory, according to the study.

People take afternoon naps more frequently as they get older, the scientists explain, working with 2214 “ostensibly healthy” participants aged 60 and up, all of them residents in several large cities including Beijing and Shanghai, China. Most participants regularly took an afternoon nap, and all slept an average of 6.5 hours per night.

[Afternoon naps were defined as any period of at least five minutes but no more than 2 hours of uninterrupted sleep taken after lunch.]

Participants then underwent a series of health checks and cognitive assessments to check for dementia. The test for dementia (Mini Mental State Exam, MMSE) included 30 tasks that measured several aspects of cognitive ability and higher functions such as visual and spatial skills, attention span, working memory, and verbal fluency.

Participants who regularly took naps showed significantly higher scores on the cognitive test than those who didn’t nap, with the most pronounced differences observed in locational awareness, verbal fluency, and memory. Regular naps may therefore keep a lot of people mentally healthy.

The scientists also postulate that midday naps may affect the production of inflammatory chemicals associated with cognitive decline – sleep helps regulate our immune system and could be an evolved response to inflammation, as seen in patients with higher levels of inflammation and overall poor health.

Read: Speech-in-noise hearing impairment an early sign of dementia

Tags: , ,

Category: Education, Features

Comments are closed.