Napping may be beneficial for your brain, according to joint research by University College London, Harvard University, and University of the Republic in Uruguay. The study aimed to uncover any potential causal relationship between daytime napping, cognitive function and brain volume. It focused on reaction time and memory because these cognitive abilities tend to decline as people get older. It also examined the hippocampus (an important brain structure for memory) and total brain volumes because they play a significant role in explaining differences in memory and overall thinking skills.
Genetic markers were used to assess the relationship between exposures and outcomes (such as certain traits or diseases). Data was drawn from nearly 379 000 people aged 40-69 who had participated in the UK Biobank study (a large-scale biomedical database). Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to assess brain volumes; computerised games that involved identifying matches of cards, were used to test cognitive abilities.
The researchers discovered that people who had genetic variations associated with napping also had larger total brain volume on average. The team says “…as far as we know right now, taking a brief nap in the early afternoon may be restorative and re-energising for those who need it – and may also be beneficial to brain health.”