Older Adults Benefit From Moderate Post-Lunch Napping: Study

January 13, 2017 Updated: January 13, 2017

Cognition in older adults may be improved by napping after lunchtime, according to a study.

The researchers analyzed self-reported data on napping habits alongside cognitive assessments of older Chinese adults. The participants were categorized into one of the following groups based on their napping behavior: non-nappers (0 minutes), short nappers (less than 30 minutes), moderate nappers (30 to 90 minutes), and extended nappers (over 90 minutes).

The researchers found that moderate nappers had overall better cognition compared to non-nappers and extended nappers.

Non-nappers had significantly poorer cognition compared to short nappers. Even after controlling for other factors that could impact cognition, napping was still found to be a significant factor. The researchers concluded, “Longitudinal studies with objective napping measures are needed to further test this hypothesis.”

Benefits of Napping

We all know that sleep is an integral part of our overall health, so if you aren’t getting adequate sleep at night, you may want to compensate by taking naps. There are three types of naps: planned, emergency, and habitual.

Planned Naps: This style of napping is done prior to getting sleepy. Planned napping is useful if you know you need to stay up later than usual, or if you want to prevent yourself from sleeping earlier than usual.

Emergency Naps: This type of napping occurs suddenly when you can no longer complete an activity due to immense tiredness.

Habitual Nap: This type of napping occurs every day at the same time. This is commonly seen in children.

Aside from boosting memory, naps come with a slew of health benefits. The benefits of power naps (about 20 minutes long) include the following:

  • Boosted alertness and enhanced performance
  • Psychological benefits such as feelings of relaxation and rejuvenation
  • Improved learning and working memory
  • Improved health
  • Improved mood

As you can see, napping can be good for your health. Just remember that napping cannot replace a good night’s sleep, so if you aren’t sleeping well you should speak to your doctor about uncovering the underlying cause. Lastly, avoid napping too close to bedtime, as it will disrupt your sleep cycle.

Dr. Marchione has been practicing medicine in New York and New Jersey for more than 20 years. He has been featured on ABC News and World Report, CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, and the NBC Today Show. As well as being on the advisory board for Bel Marra Health, he is also the editor of the Health eTalk newsletter. This article was originally published on BelMarraHealth.com. Check out their Facebook page