Alzheimer’s and Daytime Napping Linked in New Research

Summary: Study reveals a bi-directional link between daytime napping and cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers say longer, more frequent napping was associated with worse cognition after one year, and worse cognition was linked to longer and more frequent daytime naps.

Source: Rush University Medical Center

Could there be a link between cognitive decline and excessive daytime napping? New research from the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center suggests a potential connection, according to an article published in Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

The connection appears to occur in both directions, researchers say; longer and more frequent napping was correlated with worse cognition after one year, and worse cognition was correlated with longer and more frequent naps after one year.

Aron Buchman, MD, a neurologist at Rush University Medical Center and co-author of the article, said the study lends evidence to the changing views of Alzheimer’s disease as a purely cognitive disorder.

“We now know that the pathology related to cognitive decline can cause other changes in function,” he said. “It’s really a multi-system disorder, also including difficulty sleeping, changes in movement, changes in body composition, depression symptoms, behavioral changes, etc.”

Researchers followed more than 1,400 patients for up to 14 years as part of the Rush Memory and Aging Project and the Religious Order Study. Participants wore a wrist-worn sensor that recorded activity continuously for up to 10 days, and came in once a year for examinations and cognitive testing. Any prolonged period of no activity during the daytime from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. was considered a nap.

When the study started, more than 75% of participants showed no signs of any cognitive impairment, 19.5% had mild cognitive impairment and slightly more than 4% had Alzheimer’s disease dementia.

Daily napping increased by about 11 minutes per year among those who didn’t develop cognitive impairment during follow-up. Naps doubled after a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment, and nearly tripled after a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease dementia.

Researchers also compared participants who had normal cognition at the start of the study but developed Alzheimer’s disease dementia to their counterparts whose thinking remained stable during the study. They found that older people who napped more than an hour a day had a 40% higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Buchman stressed that the study does not imply that napping causes Alzheimer’s dementia, or vice versa.

“This is an observational study, so we can’t say that ‘a causes b’,” he said. “But we can say that they unfold at the same time, and it’s possible that the same pathologies may contribute to both.”

Alzheimer’s disease is caused by the accumulation of two proteins, amyloid beta and tau, within the brain. While the decline in cognitive function is the most well-known symptom of Alzheimer’s disease, this protein accumulation can occur in various locations of the brain, brainstem and spinal cord, causing a variety of symptoms.

This shows a man taking a nap
The study lends evidence to the changing views of Alzheimer’s disease as a purely cognitive disorder. Image is in the public domain

The study indicates that increases in the frequency and duration of daytime napping may be one of those symptoms.

“Once you’ve identified the pathology and location, you can work on potential treatments,” Buchman said. “There are proteins or genes that might prevent the accumulation of tau and beta, or there’s potentially ways to mitigate or slow their accumulation.”

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the BrightFocus Foundation Alzheimer’s Research Program. Buchman said that one of the study’s primary strengths was its participant cohorts from the Memory and Aging Project and the Religious Order Study. Both studies are decades-long efforts that recruit participants to undergo annual testing, sample collection and organ donation after their death.

“The people in our studies are very special people,” he said. “Without people making this kind of contribution we wouldn’t be able to do the research that we do. They are so excited to be able to participate, they animate the staff with their participation. We’re very lucky to have them.”

About this Alzheimer’s disease research news

Author: Press Office
Source: Rush University Medical Center
Contact: Press Office – Rush University Medical Center
Image: The image is in the public domain

Original Research: Closed access.
Daytime napping and Alzheimer’s dementia: A potential bidirectional relationship” by Peng Li et al. Alzheimer’s & Dementia


Daytime napping and Alzheimer’s dementia: A potential bidirectional relationship


Daytime napping is frequently seen in older adults. The longitudinal relationship between daytime napping and cognitive aging is unknown.


Using data from 1401 participants of the Rush Memory and Aging Project, we examined the longitudinal change of daytime napping inferred objectively by actigraphy, and the association with incident Alzheimer’s dementia during up to 14-year follow-up.


Older adults tended to nap longer and more frequently with aging, while the progression of Alzheimer’s dementia accelerates this change by more than doubling the annual increases in nap duration/frequency. Longer and more frequent daytime naps were associated with higher risk of Alzheimer’s dementia. Interestingly, more excessive (longer or more frequent) daytime napping was correlated with worse cognition a year later, and conversely, worse cognition was correlated with more excessive naps a year later.


Excessive daytime napping and Alzheimer’s dementia may possess a bidirectional relationship or share common pathophysiological mechanisms.

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  1. I would like to reach out to find out does taking a nap during lunch time at certain age also impact the brain in a bad way? And how long of a nap can one take that would be good for the body and not bad for the brain? Thanks

  2. I call bs on this one just because you take a daily nap doesn’t mean you have cognitive decline. Maybe you’re just tired from work or because you didn’t get enough sleep the night before. I’ve read where it’s heart healthy to take a daily short nap. I call bs on this one

  3. I have an issue with this study. How do they know that daytime napping causes cognitive decline? Maybe cognitive decline causes increased daytime napping.

    Correlation does not definitively imply causation.

    1. My wife has dementia for about 9 years, since the first year I am giving her in the morning 1-Multivitamin, 1-Turmeric, 1-Neurella C, 1-Fish oil, 1-Alpha GPC, 1-Piracetan, 1-Brain Awake, 1-Quanol TRA CoQ10.
      At Night
      1-Citicoline CDP Choline, 1-Turmeric, 1-Fish Oil, 1-Ginkgo Biloba Extract, 1- Aspirin 81mg.
      She walk all day long for many hours, in side the house. We are constantly traveling, by RV, by Cruises, by plan, every month we are in a dif State or Country, every we she go to dance 1 or 2 time, we eat Salmon, Salad, Quaker, we don’t Smoke never, we don’t drink alcohol, we used 3 times a week JACUZZI, we never get sick. ThNk GOD.

    2. Daytime napping is linked to every neurological disease duh! That’s like saying it’s linked to narcolepsy! Tell me something I don’t know!

    3. I don’t think they said that anywhere. They actually SPECIFICALLY said they were not claiming causation.

  4. I’m sorry, what did the article state again? I started dozing halfway through it.

  5. With this daytime sleep or napping you would anticipe the french and frencophone countries elders would develop Alzheimer as in any of these countries from 12pm to 2pm it is a nap and break time for both all students and professionals.Do they have high record of Alzheimer? Not that I know of .We have high incidences here in the state than any others country who engages in napping break.

    1. Accumulation of tau is not the problem. Tau is one molecule that is important to connect spin waves between microtubules,where memory is written

    2. After all the deception of COVID and the supposed studies, safety, and now global deaths specially of our vaccinated children getting this “mysterious HEPATITIS” & dying from liver disease. Does anyone trust science anymore? This study can’t be accurate due to environmental and genetic variables that impact findings. But they decide to single out sleep. Sleep is a necessity napping is for babies and elderly. I’m gonna call BS ON THESE SKEWED FINDINGS.

  6. What is wrong with these people commenting? Can they not read?

    An actual nap or siesta is fine and can be quite positive.

    Sleeping for hours during the day is not fine or normal.

    There is a huge amount of ignorance and/or denial in these comments.If you or someone you know has this problem, please see a doctor for diagnosis as to why. Yes, it could be due to sleep apnea or be a symptom of a cognitive problem.

    1. Does this include the siesta that is common and popular in large areas of the world?

  7. Grandparents took care of each other to 93-94, then grandfather six months into dementia died, grandmother died three months later-stating/wanting not to live anymore…
    …staying in the here now, we’re caring as long as we can too…

    1. Huh? I think i fell asleep 3-4 times while reading your comment. I thought the articlw was well written and informaaaaaaaaattttt….. zzzzzzzz…..

      1. Old people take naps, old people get Alzheimer’s…. There’s gotta be a link!

  8. The evidence of the aforementioned speaks for itself. I believe napping regenerates the body. Also no specifics were given as the how much or not is too much. There’s an exception to these findings which are baseless.

  9. Interesting article(they may be on to something or may not). This article is just a summary. Click on the link “original research” provided if you want in-depth info about their research(details of age of participants, etc.).

  10. Meanwhile in Latin countries where everyone naps for most of their lives….. Alzheimer’s numbers are no more increased than cultures that do not practice this .

  11. Two thoughts:
    1. Could the need for longer more frequent naps be due to sleep apnea which is what in fact causing the mental decline?
    2. Winston Churchill was famous for almost religiously taking a nap and even boasted that because of his naps he was able to work two full work days in 24 hours instead of just one – and he was brilliant even late in his life I know it’s anecdotal but so many people nap that I have a hard time buying this paper’s results without more checks on convoluting factors.

  12. I believe this to be flawed science since it was done in the UK which has a large incidence of BSE and vCJD, both which mimick the signs of Alzheimers.

  13. I mother and my mother-in-law both had dementia before they passed away. I believe your conclusion is wrong. I believe that as the cognition deteriorates your body needs more rest, and then the body is able to continue through the day. But I also know that a little rest or nap never hurt anyone. My grandmother died without dementia and she napped in the afternoons all the time. She awoke bright as ever from her naps, and stayed awake during her gambling at casinos until 2am at times.

    1. I love my afternoon naps. They brighten me up for the rest of my day of feeding my pets and the birds, cleaning up after storms, cleaning my house, working in my little shop, or happily sitting on my nice porch after cooking dinner. I am 72 and don’t believe i am in mental decline. I sleep a couple of glorious hours every afternoon and getting awakened by my cat wanting some cuddling time makes me feel refreshed, happy, and loved.

  14. My mother is 91 with dementia. .health wise a bad back. Ever since my dad died 2 yrs ago all she does is sleep during the day
    As a widow myself I cannot sleep at night ,but I don’t nap during the day either I think my mother just wants to go in her sleep like my dad. But everyday she’s more confused what do you think?

  15. This is dangerously close to clickbait. Which is sad for a lot of reasons, there are really people who have Alzheimer’s and Dementia and you, just by your title, suggest not to take naps so you won’t get either.

  16. Dementia typically brings poor sleep or rest, which makes the patient more sleepy and take more naps during the day. At the same time, sleeping poorly is proven to limit the removal of amyloid plaques, and may even cause dementia-like symptoms. I don’t think that long naps could cause dementia in any way. My theory is that poor sleep and needing to take daytime naps may be a very early symptom of dementia, and that’s why napping arrived earlier than the diagnostic in some patients.

  17. this is probably one of the worst examples of garbage pseudo science i have seen! i guess those people did not study any asian, esp japanese! or even people in latin countries. the study title should really be “americans should not nap!” furthermore, “excessive”? what is defined as “excessive”? 12 hours? “longer and more frequent”? than what? 5 min of power nap? my father was a quantum physicist who religiously napped 1.5 hours every single day of his entire life. even when he died from hemorrhage stroke at the age of 87, his mind was better than most of the people i had come cross in this country. lol

  18. I’m sorry with all the respect but the article is missing some information like, the age range, location and other details of the individuals studied.

  19. We know during rem sleep spinal fluid flows on to the brain to kinda wash it and remove toxins. I wonder if the extra napping is a symptom of the brain trying to prolong this function because it’s not doing its job properly

  20. I can say in my experience with my aunts and mothers all had really bad except my grandmother and she was the only one that was stay at home and only one that took a nap religiously her sisters would tease her about it and they all had it but her. So it’s not a very good determining trait.

  21. I guess I’m well on my way then.. I’m 64 years old, retired and I definitely takes naps during the day. Not really intentional naps, but I do fall asleep while watching TV or even a short nap after eating. My parents lived into their 80s and did the same thing without Alzhiemers, but my grandfather had it. I heard Alzhiemers skips a generation, so… is that true? Because if it is then.. it’s our generation’s turn for my 1st cousins and myself.

  22. I agree with Christina I have a father who died from dementia but his mother my grand mother live till she was 97 with our any signs of dementia I believe it’s nutritional it must be linked to nutrients and lower activity because my father declined as his work load decreased it’s nutrition and blow flow speed if that makes any sense.

  23. My grandmother lived to be almost 100 yr old and she took afternoon naps. Until a week before her death, she was sharp as a tack cognitively.
    I can’t believe that this study hot funding, but then, worse ideas for studies get funding.
    Maybe a better study would be the effects of overnight workers vs daytime
    That way it can be certain whether it is nature or nuture.


    1. Eat your greens. i don’t eat greens everyday as I opt for corn or cauliflower or some other kind of vegetable. But oh when I have greens like spinach, lettuce, collard greens steamed lightly in a steamer, with a touch of olive oil and juice of a fresh lemon, I notice that my thinking is more clear and eased. EAT YOUR GREENS! Lol….

  25. I did not see any information on labs that could induce napping or tiredness like low iron, low B12, intrinsic factor status, diet, heart rate, cholesterol LDL levels, glucose, or current medications. Increased napping alone doesn’t do it for me at all.

  26. Correlation doesn’t necessarily equal causation. During the summer months there are more shark attacks and more ice cream consumption. Older people tend to nap more and older people tend to get neurological degenerative diseases.

    1. Woe. How you heard about siestas aka day napping? Most people from Spain and Latin America have siestas and they are healthy.

  27. This is the most contrived study I’ve ever read.

    Correlation does not equal causality.

    This “study” is bordering on BS

  28. I’m 62 I nap to block out the other hall’s incessant*****ing. So it cod be argued that long term marriage leads to cognitive decline.

  29. This is interesting to me, since I lived with my Father in Law for a number of years (started living with us at 79 yrs old), and he rarely took naps of more than about 20-30 minutes in his recliner, but we watched his dementia get greater and deeper – could not make his own meals, a neurologist stopped him from driving, and he lived with us because he could no longer safely live alone.

    Meanwhile, my Step-Dad has taken 2+ hour naps every afternoon for 2+ decades, yet, at 97 yrs old, he has no real signs of dementia – lives in his own home in a suburb (on 3 acres) w/o public transit, still can drive, and still can cook his own meals. He doesn’t even have any grey hair!

    I don’t know that I can buy into this study…..

    1. Sleep is very essential for the body’s recovery otherwise we would not sleep. There’s a reason why we sleep because if it wasn’t essential we would not have to be left in a state that leaves us vulnerable to predators, rival tribes, you can’t hunt for food when you sleep. Sleep is a vital recovery mechanism, if it was not vital than nature would have scrapped it.

    1. A siesta is a nap. Haven’t you ever seen the picture of a Latino leaning up against a tree with his sombrero pulled down to shade his face and wrapped in a serape’ taking a nap?

      1. My mom is 80+ years old.And she told me I get very forget full when I worry a lot She thinks the cause of too much worrying ,

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