Regular napping can have beneficial effects on the brain, potentially delaying aging by three to six years, according to a study by University College London researchers. However, they recommend that naps should be less than half an hour in duration.
- The research team found that the brains of those who regularly nap were 15 cubic centimetres larger, an equivalent to delaying brain aging by between three and six years.
- Napping plays a critical role in development when we are infants, decreases as we age, and then sees a resurgence after retirement. The researchers found that 27% of people over 65 report having a daytime nap.
- While regular napping could help in compensating for deficient sleep and potentially protect against neurodegeneration, whether it could prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s still requires further investigation.
- The researchers made use of a large natural experiment based on DNA. They used data from 35,000 people, aged 40 to 69, part of the UK Biobank project and compared those genetically predisposed to be “nappers” and “non-nappers”.
- Despite these findings, the researchers acknowledge that work culture often discourages daytime sleep. However, they believe that everyone could potentially benefit from incorporating brief naps into their routine.
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