New work published in the journal General Psychiatry has just shown that regular naps allow better mental agility for seniors… and therefore could help prevent cognitive decline. An interesting perspective when we consider that dementia affects 1 in 14 people from the age of 65, and 1 in 6 people after 80 years.
To come to this conclusion, researchers at Shanghai Jiao-tong University followed the sleep patterns of more than 2,000 of their fellow citizens. Two-thirds took a regular nap (from once a day to once a week) and the remaining third did not.
Then each of the participants took a series of 30 tests measuring several aspects of cognitive ability such as working memory, attention span, problem solving, verbal fluency …
Scientists have thus observed higher scores (in particular with regard to memory and verbal fluency) in “naps”. For the authors, “sleep regulates the immune response and napping is considered a response to inflammation.” The inflammation that goes hand in hand with the brain damage characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease.
Note: the nap should not last forever. After 30 minutes, going into deep sleep makes waking up difficult and can cause difficulty falling asleep at night.