Taking an afternoon nap could be good for the brain, a new study suggests.
The study, published in General Psychiatry, looked at results of cognitive tests in people who regularly took an afternoon nap and those who didn’t. They specifically studied more than 2,200 people in China who were 60 or older.
Naps were defined by researchers as a period of sleep taken after lunch lasting between five minutes and two hours.
Both the nappers and the non-nappers took cognitive tests which assess “visual space, memory, naming, attention, calculation, abstract, orientation and language function,” according to the study’s authors.
Researchers noticed “scores were statistically higher in the napping group compared with the non-napping group. Furthermore, we observed significant differences in orientation, language function,” and language fluency.
However, they noted that their study, in combination with previous studies, shows not all naps are helpful.
“Longer and more frequent naps were associated with poorer cognitive functioning, while short (<30 min), frequent (four times weekly) naps were associated with an 84% decreased risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease,” the researchers noted.
The researchers admit their study was limited; they did not get too detailed with subjects about the duration of their naps or what time in the afternoon, or look at younger people.