a nap It is good for general health. Despite the fact that the usual rhythm of life makes it almost impossible, more and more evidence is being added that having moments of rest during the day is the best way to enjoy a long life.
Most children under three years of age take a nap, and as the years go by, daytime rest becomes less frequent: only 12.7% of children between the ages of 6 and 13 take a nap and in adulthood, only 13.7% of people between the ages of between the ages of 26 and 64 do so. Napping is again increasing in the elderly (27% of those over 65 are daytime sleepers), and the effect of this behavior on Brain health It is of particular interest to science because napping appears to be beneficial for performance on some cognitive tasks.
now, Recent research They showed, in addition, Prevents neurodegenerative diseases typical of age. researchers University College London (UCL) and the University of the Republic of Uruguay found that “naps can help maintain brain health By slowing the rate of brain contraction As people get older.
The finding is interesting, according to the team, because brain shrinkage — a process that occurs with age — is accelerated in people with cognitive problems and neurodegenerative diseases, and some research suggests this may be related to sleep problems.
According to a study published in the journal Sleep healthThe researchers found an association between regular daytime naps and Increased total brain volumewhich may suggest that regular napping provides some protection against neurodegeneration by compensating for poor sleep.”
Dr.. Victoria Garfield, from the MRC’s unit University College Londonis the lead author of the research paper and notes that “the results suggest that for some people, short naps during the day may be part of the puzzle that can help.” Maintaining brain health as they age“.
Previous research has shown that napping has cognitive benefits, with people who take short breaks throughout the day getting better results on cognitive tests in the hours that follow than people who don’t nap.
The new study aimed to determine if there is a causal relationship between daytime napping and brain health.
The team used data from 35,080 participants UK Biobank which collected genetic, lifestyle, and health information from 500,000 people between the ages of 40 and 69, with the goal of analyzing whether a set of genetic variants previously associated with self-reported habitual daytime naps are also associated with brain size, cognition, and other aspects of brain health.
Because these variants are generated at birth and are supposed to be random, the approach allowed the researchers to test them The effect of napping on the brain By reducing the influence of lifestyle factors that can affect napping habits and brain health, such as smoking or physical activity.
Using a technique called Mendelian randomization, they examined 97 pieces of DNA that are believed to determine how likely people are to nap regularly. They compared measures of brain health and cognition of people who were more genetically “programmed” to nap with other couples who didn’t have these genetic variants, and found that people who were pre-designated to nap had a greater total brain size.
The research team estimated that the average difference in brain volume Between people scheduled to take regular naps and those who didn’t, that equated to 2.6 to 6.5 years of old age.
In the opinion of lead author and doctoral candidate Valentina Paz, of the University of the Republic of Uruguay, “This is the first study that attempts to uncover A causal relationship between regular daytime naps and the brain cognitive and structural. “By looking at genes that are configured at birth, Mendelian randomization avoids lifelong confounding factors that could influence the association between napping and health outcomes,” he noted. Our study indicates a causal relationship between habitual napping and increased total brain volume. “
“Having short naps during the day can help preserve brain volume, potentially positively for dementia prevention,” Garfield said.
Finally, the paper’s authors note that while they did not have information on ideal napping duration, previous studies have indicated that a daytime rest of 30 minutes or less It provides the best short-term cognitive benefits. They also noted that early naps are less likely to disrupt nighttime sleep.