Afternoon naps linked with better thinking


By Ed Pinches | Monday 25 January 2021

Scientists in China have found that afternoon napping was linked to better memory and thinking in people over the age of 60. The publication, General Psychiatry reports the results today (Monday 25 January).

What did the scientists look at?

The researchers looked at 739 volunteers to see if there was a link between napping and cognitive function in later life.

They classed ‘napping’ as periods of sleep of at least five minutes after lunch outside of normal sleeping hours.

Volunteers were split into a napping and non-napping group. They also had memory and thinking and blood tests.

What did the researchers find?

People who took afternoon naps showed better memory and thinking performance on tests compared with those who did not nap.

The scientists also found longer, and more frequent naps were associated with poorer memory and thinking, while shorter more frequent naps were linked with fewer dementia cases.

What our expert said:

Dr Sara Imarisio, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“Scientists continue to work to unravel the relationship between sleep and dementia. Unusual sleep patterns are common for people with dementia, but research suggests that sleep changes could be apparent long before any symptoms like memory loss start to show.

“In this study, scientists were unable to find out whether daytime napping directly affected memory and thinking, with the research merely showing a link between the two.

“While other studies have also indicated a link between changes in sleep quality, a larger study looking at a number of sleep-related factors, not just napping, is needed to paint a clearer picture about the link between dementia and sleep throughout the day.

“There is a clear appetite among the public to improve their brain health and reduce their risk of dementia. To find out how to look after your brain visit


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Ed Pinches