Do you ever sit down after an afternoon stroll…
Crack open a book or magazine…
And the next thing you know, you’re waking up wondering how long you were out for this time?
It’s no secret people tend to nap more as they age.
But the question remains: Are these “cat naps” beneficial or harmful to the aging brain?
Let’s take a look…
A sign of dementia?
Some people believe daytime napping occurs when they don’t get quality sleep at night.
But if that nap becomes a daily occurrence—and gets longer in duration over time—well, it could just be a red flag pointing to dementia.
Researchers analyzed 14 years’ worth of data from just over 1,400 seniors, average age of 81.
Participants wore a device that tracked activity levels. And any extended period of non-activity between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. was considered a nap.
In addition, they underwent several tests to assess cognitive function each year.
Researchers found that the length of daily daytime napping DOUBLED with a mild cognitive impairment diagnosis (a precursor to dementia). And nearly TRIPLED with an Alzheimer’s disease (AD) diagnosis.
Not only that, but when compared to subjects who retained normal cognition throughout the study period, those who napped more than one hour daily had a whopping 40 percent higher risk of developing AD.
Ultimately, the researchers concluded, “It would be very interesting for future studies to explore whether intervention of naps may help slow down age-related cognitive decline.”
Lifestyle helps protect your brain
In my view, napping is yet another thing that can be healthy—in moderation.
In fact, some research suggests napping can actually BOOST brain power.
But I think the takeaway message is this…
Nighttime sleeping habits are vitally important to the aging brain. That’s why I always recommend you strive for seven to nine hours of quality shuteye each night. And never rely on a nap to substitute a good night’s sleep.
Then, when it comes to a daytime snooze, I don’t see anything wrong with getting the occasional midday pick-me-up. Just keep it short and sweet—between 30 minutes to one hour, tops.
And last but not least, build other brain-boosting activities into your daily schedule. In fact, socializing, exercising, cooking, playing board games, and more can all help keep your brain sharp as you age.
For more details about how to protect your memory and fight dementia, check out my Alzheimer’s Prevention and Treatment Plan.
“Extended napping in seniors may signal dementia.” Science Daily, 03/17/2022. (sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/03/220317111848.htm)