Led by a group of researchers University College London (UCL) and University of the Republic of Uruguay He recently analyzed data from a large group of people aged 40 to 69 and found a causal relationship between the norm. Daytime sleep And higher total brain volume—a well-known marker of brain health—reduces the risk of dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases. This surprising finding suggests that regular sleep can help maintain brain health by slowing the rate at which the brain declines as we age.
“Our findings suggest that for some people, short daytime sleepiness may be part of the puzzle,” said study senior author Victoria Garfield, a genetic epidemiology specialist at UCL.
Although previous studies have shown that napping during the day has significant cognitive benefits—those who took short naps performed better on cognitive tests in the hours after sleep than those who stayed awake—this study was unable to identify a causal relationship between napping and sleep. It is the first. Mental health.
How the study was conducted
The scientists analyzed 97 DNA fragments using a technique called Mendelian randomization to determine the likelihood of people falling asleep. This statistical method is generally used in epidemiology and genetics to investigate the causal relationship between an exposure or risk factor and an outcome or disease. The technique focuses on clusters of genetic variants that are randomly assigned at conception and are unaffected by environmental and confounding factors.
Then using the data from 378,932 participants UK BiobankThey compared measures of brain health and cognition in people who were genetically more prone to sleep deprivation with their counterparts who did not have these genetic differences. Genetic variants that influence our ability to fall asleep have been identified in a previous study (based on data from 452,633 UK Biobank participants) that combined self-reported sleep with physical activity recorded by wrist-worn accelerometers.
What the researchers found
The study found that participants who scheduled bedtimes had higher total brain volume, and the average volume difference between people who were scheduled to go to sleep early and those who were 2.5 to 6.5 years old. Although the researchers did not have data on sleep duration, previous studies have shown that short naps (half an hour or less) provide cognitive benefits, but earlier bedtimes are less likely to reduce nighttime sleep.
“This is the first study to address the causal relationship between normal daytime sleep and cognitive and structural brain outcomes. By looking at genes set at birth, Mendelian randomization eliminates confounding factors that occur later in life that may influence relationships between sleep and health outcomes. Republic of Uruguay said lead author Valentina Paz, assistant professor of psychology at the University.
“I hope that research like this, showing the health benefits of short naps, will still help reduce any stigma around daytime napping,” Garfield added.
However, because all participants were of white European ancestry, the findings may not be immediately generalizable to other ethnicities. Additionally, more research is needed to assess how habitual nappers perform on other measures of brain health and cognition (hippocampal volume, reaction time, and visual processing). The study was published in the journal Sleep health.
More about sleep and health
Sleep can be beneficial to your health in many ways, but like most things, it’s all about balance and moderation. Here are some ways sleep can benefit your health:
Fast sleep, also known as “power sleep,” can help improve cognitive and motor learning skills. This is especially true if you are extremely tired or need a boost of alertness.
Improved memory and learning
Sleep can improve your memory and cognition. Some studies suggest that napping improves creative problem solving and verbal memory as well as cognitive learning.
Taking a nap can help boost your mood. Sleep has a huge impact on your mood in general, and a short nap can help boost your mood quickly during a stressful day.
Fatigue is reduced
Daytime naps can help reduce fatigue, increase alertness, and improve performance and learning.
Possible side effects of sleeping
This is a term that refers to the groggy, disorientated feeling that can come when waking up from a deep sleep. If you take a long nap, you may wake up in between sleep cycles, which can lead to insomnia.
Night sleep problems
Taking frequent naps during the day can disrupt your night’s sleep — especially if you’re struggling with insomnia or poor quality sleep at night.
Chronic health problems
Excessive daytime sleepiness, including the urge to take frequent or very long naps, can be a sign of an underlying medical condition, such as sleep apnea or depression.
Tips for effective sleep
Keep it short.
Aim to snooze for only 10-20 minutes. The longer you sleep, the more likely you are to become irritable afterward.
Choose the right time
The best time to go to bed is mid-afternoon, around 2 or 3 pm. This helps because it’s usually the natural point of sleep in the circadian rhythm, and it’s less likely to interfere with nighttime sleep.
Create a calm environment
Sleep in a dark, quiet place with comfortable room temperature and few distractions.