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An Afternoon Nap May Give You a Mental Boost

What did Winston Churchill, John F Kennedy, Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison all have in common? They were known to enjoy a daily afternoon nap, according to the National Sleep Foundation.


Humans are among the only mammals known as monophasic sleepers - meaning that our days are divided into two distinct periods, one for sleep and one for wake. But should we begin to consider carving out time for a daily nap? Research suggests that we might.

A team of scientists at University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia have found that an hour-long afternoon nap may provide us a mental boost as evidenced by improved memory and an improved ability to focus.

Junxin Li studied information from nearly 3000 adults aged 65 and older with about 60% of those taking regular naps after lunch that lasted between 30 minutes to 90 minutes. The participants were then asked to undergo several mental status tests and those who napped for 60 minutes performed better on those tests than those who did not nap.

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The hour-long duration appeared to be the “sweet spot” for napping, as those who took shorter or longer naps did not do quite as well on brain function tests.

The National Sleep Foundation says that short naps during the day can restore alertness, enhance performance and reduce mistakes and accidents. The Foundation also notes psychological benefits as a rest period can provide relaxation and rejuvenation.

However, be sure to choose your nap time wisely. Too close to bedtime, and you could interrupt your regular sleeping patterns. Too early in the day, and you are not likely to need the sleep, resulting in a restless attempt.

American Geriatrics Society, news release, Jan. 5, 2017
National Sleep Foundation

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By Shanghai killer whale - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons