Afternoon Napping Tied to Better Cognition


Afternoon napping by older adults is tied to better memory and improved language skills, new research suggests.

The findings were published online January 25 in General Psychiatry.

A randomized study of more than 2000 elderly persons in China showed that those who engaged in afternoon napping that lasted less than 2 hours had significantly better scores on cognitive function measures than their counterparts who did not nap.

Total scores and orientation and language function scores on the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) were significantly higher in the napping group, as were orientation scores on the Beijing version of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA). Further tests also showed significant between-group differences in language fluency and digit span.

The investigators analyzed data from a large national epidemiologic survey and included 2214 participants aged 55 years or older. Of these, 1534 (69.3%) reported that they were afternoon nappers. Napping was defined as participating in "periods of at least five consecutive minutes scored as sleep (inactivity) after lunch outside of the main sleep schedule."