When your morning coffee’s kick is wearing off and that afternoon slump starts to hit you, go and take a nap to keep your mind running properly.
The idea of a siesta is nothing new, particularly in hotter countries like Spain, and researchers have long studied the benefits of these post-lunch catnaps. A new study pinpoints the optimal amount of time seniors should nap in the afternoon for the benefit of their mental function: about one hour.
Findings in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society were based on surveys of almost 3,000 older Chinese people about their napping habits and data of their cognitive function. Those who napped for a moderate amount of time after lunch — most of them for close to 60 minutes — showed “better overall cognition” as compared to both people who didn’t nap and people who napped for periods that were longer than 90 minutes or shorter than 30 minutes. Based on the results, those moderately long naps “may be an important part of optimizing cognition in elderly adults,” the study suggested, and thus decreasing “the risk of functional dependence and poor quality of life.”
The Health in Aging Foundation, a nonprofit group founded by the American Geriatrics Society, said in a statement that the difference in mental function between the moderate nappers and all the rest was equivalent to what “a five-year increase in age would be expected to cause” — the latter group’s mental decline was between four and six times greater.