Taking an Hour Long Afternoon Nap Improves Memory and Cognition in Older Adults

Summary: Researchers report aging Chinese people who took an afternoon snooze had better memory and thinking skills than those who didn’t.

Source: American Geriatrics Society.

Preserving your memory, as well as your ability to think clearly and make decisions, is a key goal for people as they age. Researchers have a growing interest in the role sleep plays in helping older adults maintain their healthy mental function.

Recently, researchers examined information provided by nearly 3,000 Chinese adults aged 65 and older to learn whether taking an afternoon nap had any effect on mental health. Their study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Nearly 60 percent of the people in the study said they napped after lunch in the afternoon. They napped between about 30 minutes to more than 90 minutes, with most people taking naps lasting about 63 minutes.

The participants took several tests to assess their mental status. They answered simple questions–such as questions about the date, the season of the year, etc.–and they did some basic math problems. Participants also were asked to memorize and recall words, and were asked to copy drawings of simple geometric figures. Finally, these older Chinese adults were asked questions about their napping and nighttime sleep habits.

According to the study’s results, people who took an hour-long nap after lunch did better on the mental tests compared to the people who did not nap. Those who napped for about an hour also did better than people who took shorter or longer rests. People who took no naps, short naps, or longer naps experienced decreases in their mental ability that were about four-to-six times greater than people who took hour-long naps.

Image shows a bed.

The people who did not nap, and those who took shorter or longer naps, experienced about the same decline in their mental abilities that a five-year increase in age would be expected to cause. NeuroscienceNews.com image is for illustrative purposes only.

The people who did not nap, and those who took shorter or longer naps, experienced about the same decline in their mental abilities that a five-year increase in age would be expected to cause.

About this neuroscience research article

Source: Daniel E. Trucil – American Geriatrics Society
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.
Original Research: Abstract for “Afternoon Napping and Cognition in Chinese Older Adults: Findings from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study Baseline Assessment” by Junxin Li, PhD; Pamela Z. Cacchione, PhD; Nancy Hodgson, PhD; Barbara Riegel, PhD; Brendan T. Keenan, MS; Mathew T. Scharf, MD, PhD; Kathy C. Richards, PhD; and Nalaka S. Gooneratne, MD in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Published online December 20 2016 doi:10.1111/jgs.14368

Cite This NeuroscienceNews.com Article
American Geriatrics Society “Taking an Hour Long Afternoon Nap Improves Memory and Cognition in Older Adults.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 5 January 2017.
<http://neurosciencenews.com/memory-napping-aging-5875/>.
American Geriatrics Society (2017, January 5). Taking an Hour Long Afternoon Nap Improves Memory and Cognition in Older Adults. NeuroscienceNew. Retrieved January 5, 2017 from http://neurosciencenews.com/memory-napping-aging-5875/
American Geriatrics Society “Taking an Hour Long Afternoon Nap Improves Memory and Cognition in Older Adults.” http://neurosciencenews.com/memory-napping-aging-5875/ (accessed January 5, 2017).

Abstract

Afternoon Napping and Cognition in Chinese Older Adults: Findings from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study Baseline Assessment

Objectives

To examine the cross-sectional associations between self-reported postlunch napping and structured cognitive assessments in Chinese older adults.

Design

Cross-sectional cohort study.

Setting

China.

Participants

Individuals aged 65 and older from the baseline national wave of the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS) (N = 2,974).

Measurements

Interview-based cognitive assessments of orientation and attention, episodic memory, visuospatial abilities, and a combined global cognition score incorporating these assessments. Other self-reported or interview-based assessments included postlunch napping duration, nighttime sleep duration, demographic characteristics, health habits, comorbidities, functional status and social activities. According to reported napping duration, older adults were categorized as non-nappers (0 minutes), short nappers (<30 minutes), moderate nappers (30–90 minutes), and extended nappers (>90 minutes).


Results

Postlunch napping was reporting in 57.7% of participants for a mean of 63 minutes. Cognitive function was significantly associated with napping (P < .001). Between-group comparisons showed that moderate nappers had better overall cognition than nonnappers (P < .001) or extended nappers (P = .01). Nonnappers also had significantly poorer cognition than short nappers (P = .03). In multiple regression analysis, moderate napping was significantly associated with better cognition than non- (P = .004), short (P = .04), and extended napping (P = .002), after controlling for demographic characteristics, body mass index, depression, instrumental activities of daily living, social activities, and nighttime sleep duration.

Conclusion

A cross-sectional association was found between moderate postlunch napping and better cognition in Chinese older adults. The cross-sectional design and self-reported measures of sleep limited the findings. Longitudinal studies with objective napping measures are needed to further test this hypothesis.

“Afternoon Napping and Cognition in Chinese Older Adults: Findings from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study Baseline Assessment” by Junxin Li, PhD; Pamela Z. Cacchione, PhD; Nancy Hodgson, PhD; Barbara Riegel, PhD; Brendan T. Keenan, MS; Mathew T. Scharf, MD, PhD; Kathy C. Richards, PhD; and Nalaka S. Gooneratne, MD in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Published online December 20 2016 doi:10.1111/jgs.14368

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