It has been just revealed the fact that power naps have the ability to slow brain aging, according to the latest reports. Check out the new discoveries here.
Benefits of short naps
It has been confirmed by experts that taking short naps can potentially enhance cognition, focus, and memory. However, recent research has uncovered a possible correlation between a genetic predisposition towards napping and a greater brain volume, which is a significant indicator of brain health.
The study, published in Sleep Health, aimed to establish a causal relationship between daytime napping, cognitive function, and brain volume. Conducted by University College London, the University of the Republic in Uruguay, and The Broad Institute in Massachusetts, the study utilized genetic markers that were strongly linked to habitual napping in previous genome-wide association studies.
The researchers analyzed data from 378,932 participants in the UK Biobank, studying 92 genetic variants associated with habitual napping. They compared individuals with three sets of these genetic traits to others, examining total brain volume, hippocampal volume, reaction time, and visual memory.
The study found that individuals with certain genetic characteristics were more likely to have a larger brain volume, which is an indicator of better brain health as the brain tends to shrink with age.
The research revealed a notable increase of 15.8 cubic centimeters in total brain volume, which is equivalent to 2.6 to 6.5 years of brain aging.
However, there were no significant differences in hippocampal volume, visual memory, or reaction time between individuals with a genetic predisposition to napping and those without. It is unclear whether habitual napping benefits the general population’s brain health since the study only focused on individuals with a genetic predisposition to napping.
It is possible that only those who have this genetic predisposition can benefit from napping to preserve their brain volume. Other factors, such as different sleep habits, may affect napping’s relevance to brain health in individuals without a genetic predisposition to napping.
Shade, who works as both a researcher and clinician at a sleep clinic, found the genetics component of the study to be innovative and reflective of his clinical experience.
He noted that while some people naturally nap daily, others cannot and therefore should not feel obligated to do so.
However, Dr. Raj Dasgupta, a physician with quadruple board-certification in sleep medicine, internal medicine, pulmonology, and critical care, expressed uncertainty about the study’s findings.
He cautioned against declaring napping as beneficial for brain health, as it could have negative effects on overnight sleep. Dr. Dasgupta also pointed out that the study does not establish a definitive causal link between napping and brain health.
Brain health indicator
It can be concerning to think about the health of our brains. One way to measure brain health is by looking at brain volume. Essentially, the more brain tissue we have, the better our brain health may be.
However, it’s important to remember that as we age, it’s normal to lose some brain cells and brain volume. When someone experiences more brain changes than expected for their age, it’s called “brain atrophy.”
This can happen faster than the typical aging process, and may lead to difficulties with thinking, memory, and everyday tasks. The more significant the loss of brain volume, the more pronounced these difficulties may become.
It’s worth noting that both whole-brain and regional volume declines have been linked to cognitive impairment and dementia.
New research has revealed that taking short naps can increase cognitive abilities and improve long-term memory retention, as opposed to simply taking a break or cramming information. It’s important to note that the length of the nap is crucial, as longer naps have actually been shown to have a negative impact on cognition.
According to Dr. Dasgupta, short naps between noon and 2:00 p.m. that last between 15-20 minutes can enhance brain function by improving memory consolidation, cognitive performance, emotional regulation, and creative thinking.
These power naps can increase alertness and focus, which can be incredibly beneficial for brain function. However, studies have shown that people who consistently sleep too much or too little have poorer health and a shorter lifespan.