Sleep Well And Think Better
Don’t worry, midday snooze will not ruin a good night’s sleep – research from NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center indicates that napping has little effect on sleep onset. And a nap today may be even beneficial for mental processing tomorrow, at least in the elderly.
Napping has little effect on sleep onset — and that a nap today may be beneficial for mental processing tomorrow, researchers say. (Credit: iStockphoto/Scott Dunlap)
People over age 60 sleep two hours less per night than their younger counterparts. Patricia Murphy and Scott Campbell, associate director and director, respectively, of the Human Chronobiology Laboratory at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell, have evidence that a midday nap may improve daytime performance and mood in the elderly. They hold that this might be true for others too.
Their research subjects are all normal sleepers. “By learning more about how normal people sleep, we may gain a better understanding of what is happening in the bodies and minds of those with sleep disorders,” says Murphy.
Study participants spend several sessions in the sleep lab, attached to scalp electrodes and a wrist activity monitor that record their sleep and wakefulness states. They are then asked to perform arithmetic, decision-making and reaction time tests after napping and on the following day.
The subjects showed improved cognitive performance immediately after a nap and into the next day, when compared with days that didn’t include (and weren’t preceded by a day with) a nap. Napping did not seem to affect nighttime sleep.
J Am Geriatr Soc. 2005 Jan;53(1):48-53.
Laboratory of Human Chronobiology, Department of Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medical College, White Plains, New York 10605, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>
OBJECTIVES: To examine, in older subjects, the effect on waking function of increasing 24-hour sleep amounts by providing a nap opportunity; to assess what effects an afternoon nap may have on subsequent nighttime sleep quality and composition. DESIGN: Two-session, within-subject laboratory design. SETTING: The study was conducted in the Laboratory of Human Chronobiology at Weill Cornell Medical College. PARTICIPANTS: Thirty-two healthy men and women aged 55 to 85. MEASUREMENTS: Polysomnography (sleep electroencephalogram), cognitive and psychomotor performance, body core temperature. RESULTS: Napping had little effect on subsequent nighttime sleep quality or duration, resulting in a significant increase in 24-hour sleep amounts. Such increased sleep resulted in enhanced cognitive and psychomotor performance immediately after the nap and throughout the next day. CONCLUSION: A behavioral approach that adds daytime sleep to the 24-hour sleep quota seems worthy of consideration when presented with a situation in which physiological changes associated with aging may limit the duration of nighttime sleep.
not sleepy yet? there are more entries on this topic (yawn)…