Napping is good for the brain

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Written by Doug Hampton

A new British study points to the benefit of rather short naps against brain atrophy.

Naps are a bit like coffee, namely a question of dosage for science. Very frequently, new studies shed light on the length of time needed for a nap to be beneficial.

Beyond a certain duration, it can be bad for the heart and increase the risk of obesity, or even be a sign of Alzheimer’s. Or, bring a benefit, as here for the brain according to new British research.

Nap: a protective action for the brain

The study in question was conducted by researchers from University College London and the University of the Republic of Uruguay. She lifts the veil on a protective action of a sleep against the shrinking of the brain over time. The authors summarize:

We found a link between regular daytime naps and larger brain volume, which may suggest that taking a nap regularly provides protection against neurodegeneration by compensating for insufficient sleep.

Reduced aging from 2 to 6 years

The scientists based their study on the very useful UK Biobank health database. In this specific case, data from more than 35,000 people to determine if variations in our DNA, linked to napping, are also linked to the size of our brain.

And according to the researchers, the genetic predisposition to nap is linked to a larger brain volume, on the order of 2.6 to 6.5 fewer years of aging.

The benefit of short naps

Victoria Garfield, who participated in the study, summarizes further:

Our results suggest that, for some people, short naps may be one of the factors that could help preserve brain health as we age.

Fine, but what does “short” mean here? Many studies agree that a duration of no more than 30 minutes is beneficial.

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