Do post-lunch naps pump up memory and thinking skills?

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Published: May, 2021

A little afternoon snooze can help you feel more rested — and it might do you good in other ways, too. A small study from China published online Jan. 25, 2021, by General Psychiatry suggests that afternoon naps (between five minutes and two hours long) may be good for your memory and thinking skills. Researchers put more than 2,200 older adults through a series of health screenings that included blood tests and cognitive assessments, and also asked participants whether and how often they napped. About 1,500 of the participants were nappers. Compared with people who didn't nap, the nappers performed better on cognitive tests, scoring better on location awareness, verbal fluency, and memory. The study was observational, so it can't prove that napping caused the better cognitive test results. Previous studies have shown that afternoon nap benefits decline as age and nap duration increase. Short, frequent naps (less than 30 minutes, four times per week) have been associated with reduced risks for developing Alzheimer's disease. In contrast, people who take long naps (two hours or longer) appear to have worse cognitive function, although it is unclear what is cause and what is effect.

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