Our lifestyle contributes immensely to the course of our cognitive function. Taking an afternoon nap boosts memory and sharpens brains, says a new study. The study published in the journal General Psychiatry found that people aged over 60 who took regular afternoon naps performed better on cognitive tests than people who didn't.
The researchers from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China have concluded that afternoon nap seems to be associated with better locational awareness, verbal fluency and working memory.
The physical and cognitive health of about 2214 people aged above 60, residing in large cities of China, were closely observed in the study. Among the participants, 1534 people took regular naps, while 680 of them did not.
These people underwent a series of health checks and cognitive assessments, including the Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE) to check for dementia. The dementia screening tests included assessments of visuospatial skills, attention span, problem-solving, working memory, locational awareness, and verbal fluency. They were also asked about the number of times they took naps per week.
The nappers scored significantly higher in all these screening and assessment tests than those who did not take naps. A considerable difference was noted between both teams in locational awareness, verbal fluency, and memory.
Both groups got an average of 6.5 hours of sleep nightly. Afternoon naps were defined as getting at least five consecutive minutes of sleep but no more than 2 hours anytime after lunch.
Being an observational study and since the naps' timing and duration were not taken into consideration, researchers believe that the cause cannot be established yet. But the study is not without possible explanations.
Experts say that afternoon naps benefit people by resting their brains, clearing out the tangle of daily thoughts in their minds and improving mental agility.