Taking an afternoon nap can recharge your battery and new research says it’s also good for your brain. A new study found that daytime napping could slow the rate at which the brain shrinks as we age. The researchers found the difference in brain volume between people who napped regularly and those who didn’t was equivalent to 2.6 to 6.4 years of aging, according to Sky News.
Senior author Victoria Garfield from University College of London (UCL) said that “our findings suggest that for some, short daytime naps may be part of the puzzle that could preserve the health of the brain as we get older.”
Previous research has found that people who take naps perform better on cognitive tests taken after they snooze. Other studies have suggested that self-reported habitual daytime napping is associated with lower Alzheimer’s disease risk,
The new study, published in the journal Sleep Health, looked at the causal relationship between daytime napping and brain health in people ages 40 to 69. Employing a method called Mendelian randomization (MR), the researchers looked at snippets of DNA thought to mark the likelihood that a person is a habitual napper. Using data on 378,932 people from the U.K. Biobank study, the researchers found that people who were genetically programmed to nap had overall greater brain volume than those who did not have the napping DNA.
But they didn’t find that those who took daily naps did better on three other measures of brain health and cognitive function, says Sky News. Lead author Valentina Paz, from the University of the Republic in Uruguay, which was also involved in the research, said, “This is the first study to attempt to untangle the causal relationship between habitual napping and cognitive and structural brain outcomes. Our study points to a causal link between habitual napping and larger total brain volume.”
According to a UCL new release, while the researchers did not have information on ideal nap duration, previous studies have shown that naps of 30 minutes or less provides the best short-term cognitive benefits and napping earlier in the day is less likely to disrupt nighttime sleep.
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