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Napping and its benefits in the elderly

Home > News > Napping and its benefits in the elderly

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The benefits of napping in adults are widely known and certified by much research. Researchers at Hiroshima University have investigated the possible presence of beneficial effects in an elderly population.

It is well known, and proven by several studies, that a short afternoon nap in adults increases productivity and slows the onset of fatigue. On the other hand, napping might worsen some sleep disturbances typical of the elderly, such as sleep maintenance problems or early awakenings. The study by Munehisa Tamaki and colleagues was one of the first to demonstrate the positive effect of daytime sleep in the elderly.

Six healthy individuals, aged 66 to 78, participated in the study. The experiment consisted of two different conditions: in the first, the participants slept for thirty minutes from 1:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., while in the second, they rested watching television. All the participants experienced both the conditions one week apart. Before and after both the sleep episode and the control condition, reaction times to a cognitive test, mood and blood pressure were recorded. A short 30-minute nap was sufficient to improve all parameters examined compared to spending an equal amount of time awake. In particular, blood pressure and reaction time decreased, while the sense of tiredness and fatigue in the hours following the nap were lower.

The study shows how a short afternoon rest should be considered in all respects a healthy habit that can improve quality of life in different age groups.

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Mattia Bernardi

Source: Tamaki M, Shirota A, Tanaka H, Hayashi M, Hori T. Effects of a daytime nap in the aged. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 1999 Apr;53(2):273-5. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1819.1999.00548.x. PMID: 10459710. [read articole]