Regular afternoon naps can help wake up aging brains

The elderly nap on the sofa in the living room at home during the day.

Afternoon naps can recharge a weary body; now research has found they also may boost cognitive function. An observational study published online Jan. 25, 2021, by General Psychiatry looked at 2,214 healthy people ages 60 and older in China, where afternoon naps are common. The participants were asked about whether they napped at least five minutes after lunch. Two-thirds took naps, and the others did not.

Everyone then underwent testing to measure various mental skills, such as memory, naming, attention, calculation, and orientation. The researchers then obtained more specifics about their napping habits, including how long they napped and how often per week.

When researchers compared the test results with the napping information, they found that nappers scored higher on the cognitive tests than the non-nappers. But the amount of napping also mattered. Shorter and less frequent naps — lasting less than 30 minutes, no more than four times a week — were associated with the most benefit. Longer and more frequent naps scored the lowest. Also, people who deliberately napped at certain times, instead of dozing off whenever they felt tired, scored higher.

The results suggest that if you do nap, it’s best to schedule naps for the early afternoon, keep them under 30 minutes (use a timer so you don’t oversleep), and try to nap several times during the week.

Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren

Luke 19 1 He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3 And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small of stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way.

 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”

 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” 11 As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. 12 He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return.

 13 Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ 14 But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ 15 When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. 

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