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Daytime Naps Add Years to Your Life

Napping during the day may slow down brain shrinkage and cancel out up to seven years of ageing, a study suggests. Perhaps a study such as this - demonstrating the health benefits of short naps - will help to reduce any stigma that still exists around daytime napping. So, spread the word - it's good for you.

Woman having an afternoon nap

The data is the first to suggest that taking a 30-minute siesta in the middle of the day could have a causal impact on brain health and function. Information gathered from almost 400,000 people in Britain aged between 40 and 69 show that those with a genetic disposition for napping had a larger total brain volume.

Brain volume, the size of the organ, is linked to good cognitive health and a lower risk of dementia.

Various past studies have shown that there is a link between napping and better brain performance and appearance, but there has been little in the way of evidence to suggest that sleeping during the day is what is boosting performance. But the UCL scientists behind the new research have now found “a modest causal association between habitual daytime napping and larger total brain volume”.

People who are genetically hard-wired to enjoy a kip during the day were found to have a larger brain, equivalent to staving off between 2.6 and 6.5 years of ageing. “Our study points to a causal link between habitual napping and larger total brain volume,” Valentina Paz, the study lead author and PhD candidate, said.

The team hopes that studies such as this one showing the health benefits of short naps can help to reduce any stigma that still exists around daytime napping.

In their paper, published in the journal Sleep Health, the team add that the link between napping and brain volume might also mean napping “provides some protection against neurodegeneration through compensating for poor sleep”.



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