New study shows regular daytime naps associated with healthy brain

2023-07-17 20:37:47
New study shows regular daytime naps associated with healthy brain

A new study has found that regular daytime naps may be associated with a healthy brain.

The study, published in Sleep Health, looked at data from the UK Biobank that collected health, genetic and lifestyle information from 500,000 individuals between the ages of 40 and 69 in Britain.

The researchers from the University College London and the University of the Republic in Uruguay evaluated data of 35,080 of the UK Biobank participants to see if there was a relationship between regular daytime napping and cognition and brain structure.

Results from the research found an association between regular daytime naps and larger total brain volume. Total brain volume is an important health measure, and may be an indicator of mortality risk, according to scientists.

Is napping good for you?

This isn't the first study to look at napping and health markers and outcomes. Prior research out of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society previously found that individuals who napped for 30 to 90 minutes had better word recall – a sign of good memory – than participants who did not nap or who napped for longer than 90 minutes.

Additional recent research on siestas, a Spanish word referring to a midday nap or rest break, found that people who often took a siesta lasting 30 minutes or less were 21% less likely to have elevated blood pressure compared to those who didn't take naps at all.

How long should a nap be?

This same study on siestas found that individuals who napped for more than 30 minutes were more likely to have a higher body weight, higher blood sugar levels and high blood pressure. Other research has suggested that excessive daytime napping may predict an increased future risk of Alzheimer’s.

Our health experts say that a nap around 20 minutes, but no more than 30 minutes, is ideal for adults. This duration will allow you to reap the benefits of a short, restorative "power nap" without falling into the deep stages of sleep and interfering with nighttime sleep.

What steps can I take for better sleep?

A short, restorative nap is ideal if you prefer a brief snooze during the day. But if you find yourself napping for prolonged periods of time it may be an indicator of insufficient overnight sleep or poor sleep quality.

Try to establish a bedtime routine where you go to bed around the same time every night. Keep the bedroom dark, quiet and cool to create an optimal environment for sleep, and ideally avoid screens for an hour or two before bed. Lastly, try to avoid caffeine at least six hours before bed, and speak with your healthcare provider to rule out any underlying conditions such as sleep apnea that may be impacting your sleep.

Source: Good Housekeeping

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