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Jan 27, 2021
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Brief naps linked to better brain health – latest study

Daytime sleep and cognitive health

Lifestyle strongly affects a person’s health, including cognitive function. It is known that the risk of dementia can be reduced by influencing risk factors such as physical inactivity, hypertension, obesity, and diabetes. Poor night sleep is associated with a risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

However, the impact of daytime sleep on cognitive health is currently not well understood, and scientific evidence is conflicting. For example, a long-term study published in 2012 found that for people aged 65, naps were associated with a reduced risk of developing dementia over the next 10 years. According to another study, people who tend to sleep long during the day are at increased risk of cognitive impairment. Some evidence suggests that naps have positive effects on the cognitive health of those who don’t sleep well at night.

Mild cognitive impairment can be a harbinger of dementia or dementia. There is currently no cure for this condition, so prevention is especially important.

New research

The study involved 2214 formally healthy people aged at least 60 years old from large cities in China. Scientists considered a daytime rest for at least five minutes, but less than two hours. 1534 of the respondents previously slept regularly during the day, the rest did not. They all slept an average of 6.5 hours at night. This shows that those who slept during the day did not compensate for the lack of sleep.

All participants took multiple tests for cognition and dementia. Scientists assessed their working memory, attention, problem-solving ability, and other indicators of cognitive health that may indicate dementia risk.

The Montreal Cognitive Scale (which is the main method for diagnosing cognitive impairment) of people who regularly sleeps during the day were higher than those who do not. They had significantly better memory, spatial awareness and fluency. Fluency of speech is an indicator that demonstrates how quickly a person can receive information from his memory.

“Most of the previous studies reporting the negative effects of daytime sleep on cognitive function have focused on prolonged sleep. The worst results were shown by Lyuli who slept more than two hours during the day. In our study, the sleep length was shorter. Otherwise, we could have come to different conclusions, ”write the authors of the work.

Scientists speculate that naps may normalize levels of inflammatory mediators in the body. Inflammation is one of the factors leading to cognitive decline.

The authors emphasize that this study does not provide evidence that naps are the cause of better cognitive health. But they believe the new work provides a better understanding of this connection.


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