They say that if you snooze, you lose. But when it comes to the size and health of your brain, the reverse may be true.
Researchers at University College London and the University of the Republic in Uruguay conducted a study to see if napping (specifically those taken throughout the day) was associated with brain volume and cognitive function. And in good news for those who like to take regular siestas, the team found that there was indeed a link between habitual napping and larger overall brain volume.
Our findings suggest that, for some people, short daytime naps may be a part of the puzzle that could help preserve the health of the brain as we get older.Dr. Victoria Garfield, Senior Researcher, University College London
Data for the study was sourced from the health records of 35,080 individuals, including magnetic resonance imaging and genetic information. From here, the participant’s genetic data that determine their napping habits were compared (nearly 100 genetic variations in total). The researchers then compared people who were genetically likely to nap (aka habitual nappers), to those that weren’t, across factors of brain health and cognition.
Of note, the difference in brain volume between people who were habitual nappers, versus those that didn’t, was equivalent to between 2.6 to 6.5 years of aging. In a UCL press release, Valentina Paz (lead author on the study) noted that the research “points to a causal link between habitual napping and larger total brain volume.”
And who said that napping was a bad habit?
@ Sleep Health Journal