A Nap a Day May Keep Dementia Away: Study Links Napping With Better Brain Health by Jacob Teitelbaum
Don’t eschew the daytime siesta – it may save your brain! A study based on data from the UK Biobank and published in Sleep Health, a journal of the National Sleep Foundation, found that habitual daytime napping was associated with larger total brain volume.
In the study, regular daytime napping was linked to greater brain volume. Specifically, those who are genetically prone to napping were found to have approximately 15 percent larger brain volumes. Maintaining healthy brain volume is the opposite of what happens when a person suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, where brain atrophy is commonly widespread, causing significant loss of brain volume.
According to the Postgraduate Medical Journal, “the volume of the brain and/or its weight generally declines with age at a rate of around 5 percent per decade after age 40 with the actual rate of decline possibly increasing with age, particularly over age 70.”
Habitual daily napping makes good sense for keeping the brain healthy – ounce for ounce. Infants nap regularly since their brains are in developmental overdrive. At the other end of the spectrum, elderly people tend to nap, perhaps as a natural protection against brain decline.
The perennial challenge in treating patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), its painful cousin fibromyalgia, and long COVID is that they don’t sleep well and therefore have trouble healing. In fact, the hallmark of CFS is exhaustion accompanied by severe insomnia, which throws a wrench into the healing process. You need restful sleep to enable the body to heal.
The napping study underscores the importance of sleep any way you can get it.
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