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Naps can delay brain aging by up to six years. How long to sleep during the day

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Daytime naps can help keep your brain healthy, according to a new study. Scientists have determined that regular, short sleep during the day helps to increase the size of the brain, although it naturally shrinks with age. How long to sleep during the day?

A new study by specialists from University College London and the University of the Republic in Uruguay was published on Monday in the journal Sleep Health. The researchers used data from over 35,000 people aged 40-69 from the UK Biobank database.

The researchers divided the participants into two groups: those who, due to genetic predisposition, are more likely to take a nap, and those who do not. Those who often sleep during the day due to health problems were excluded from the study, because the aim was to determine the effect of naps on the brain of healthy people.

SEE ALSO: Sleep apnea can cause dangerous changes in the brain

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Naps during the day. What does the research show?

Researchers have determined that daytime naps are associated with an increase in brain volume, which naturally shrinks with age. This increase is not large, on average 15 cubic cm, but it can delay the aging process by up to 3-6 years. Thus, napping can have a positive effect on the condition of the brain.

‘We believe that everyone can benefit from sleeping during the day,’ Dr Victoria Garfield, one of the authors of the study, told the BBC. However, she noted that a nap should not last longer than 30 minutes. The problem is that it is not always possible, especially during working hours. However, as the expert points out, it is easier than regular physical exercise or weight loss.

Do naps prevent the development of dementia?

But scientists aren’t sure if naps can protect against dementia and Alzheimer’s. Additional studies targeting these conditions are needed to demonstrate this. However, it is known – because this is what current research shows – that people with sleep disorders are more vulnerable to dementia, and the lack of sufficient sleep can increase inflammatory factors in the brain and worsen the formation of connections between neurons.

However, research from March 2022 showed that taking too many or regular naps during the day could be a sign of the onset of dementia in older people. Elderly people who napped at least once a day or an hour a day were 40% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who did not take a daily nap or napped for less than an hour.

SEE ALSO: Obesity can cause irreversible changes in the brain. Study ‘shows why excess weight is a disease’

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