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Taking a nap in the afternoon might seem mundane, but benefits can be derived from it. Some of those benefits can be scientifically proved.

Scientists recently conducted a study whose findings conclude that taking a nap during the day increases mental sharpness or cognitive abilities. It also reduces the risk of suffering from dementia. The study enrolled more than 2000 participants over 60 years old. More than 1500 of them took regular naps in the afternoon after having lunch.

“Taking a regular afternoon nap may be linked to better mental agility. It seems to be associated with better locational awareness, verbal fluency, and working memory,” noted Dr. Lin Sun, a corresponding author in the study.

How can nap during the day combat dementia?

Older people are more likely to develop dementia than their younger counterparts, usually due to the natural neural degeneration that occurs as people grow older. The cognitive decline causes problems such as loss of motor functions, speech impairment, and memory loss.

The study evaluated more than 2,200 healthy individuals who live in cities in China. 1,534 of them took regular naps in the afternoon, while the remaining study participants did not nap during the day. The study took into account an average of 6.5 sleep hours at night for the participants. The findings indicate that those who napped in the afternoon achieved better cognitive performance scores than those who did not take afternoon siestas.

Researchers also observed distinct differences in memory, verbal fluency, and locational awareness between those who napped and those who did not. Scientists also want to establish whether there are anti-inflammatory benefits to napping during the day. Most of the recent study findings do not have any direct explanations as to why napping helps to achieve positive mental changes.

Some scientists believe that inflammatory chemicals have an active role in causing sleeping disorders. Sleep is a regulator for immune responses, and napping, in this case, can be considered an effective way of controlling inflammation. Some scientists believe that napping might be an evolutionary response to inflammation. This school of thought attempts to rationalize that individuals who experience higher inflammation levels tend to nap a lot.