HealthDay News — Moderate post-lunch napping is tied to better cognition in older adults, according to a study published online Dec. 20 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Junxin Li, PhD, from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues examined associations between self-reported post-lunch napping and structured cognitive assessments in older Chinese adults (≥65 years). Napping was characterized by length: non-nappers (0 minutes), short nappers (<30 minutes), moderate nappers (30 to 90 minutes), and extended nappers (>90 minutes).

The researchers found that 57.7 percent of participants reported napping (mean time, 63 minutes). There was a significant association between cognitive function and napping (P<0.001). Moderate nappers had better overall cognition than non-nappers (P<0.001) or extended nappers (P=0.01). Non-nappers also had significantly poorer cognition compared to short nappers (P = 0.03). After controlling for demographic characteristics, body mass index, depression, instrumental activities of daily living, social activities, and nighttime sleep duration, moderate napping was significantly associated with better cognition than non- (P=0.004), short (P=0.04), and extended napping (P=0.002).

“Longitudinal studies with objective napping measures are needed to further test this hypothesis,” the authors write.

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Li J, Cacchione P, Hodgson N, Riegel B, et al. Afternoon Napping and Cognition in Chinese Older Adults: Findings from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study Baseline Assessment. Journal of the American Geriatric Society. 2016; doi: 10.1111/jgs.14368View/save citation