Can a post lunch nap improve brain function?

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Findings from a new study suggest taking a nap after lunch improves thinking and memory in older adults.

As part of the research, scientists studied data relating to almost 3,000 Chinese adults aged 65 and older to examine the associations between self-reported post-lunch napping and structured cognitive assessments. Almost 58 per cent of participants reported napping for a mean of 63 minutes.

The researchers found cognitive function was significantly improved with napping. Moderate nappers, defined as those who napped for 30 to 90 minutes, had better cognition than non-nappers, short or extended nappers. Non-nappers had significantly poorer cognition than short nappers.

The difference in overall cognition in those who did not nap and those who took shorter or longer naps, was similar to or greater than the decline in cognition associated with a 5-year increase in age.

The authors acknowledged that the cross-sectional design and self-reported measures of sleep limited the findings and said longitudinal studies with objective napping measures are needed to further test this hypothesis.