After hitting that mid-day slump, most people wish that they could lie back, relax, and take a nice nap.
But while this desire might make some people feel guilty or unproductive, a new study has found that habitual napping is casually linked with larger overall brain volume– a good brain health marker associated with a lower risk of dementia and other diseases.
The research was led by scientists at UCL and the University of the Republic in Uruguay, who analyzed data from people between the ages of 40 and 69.
“Our findings suggest that, for some people, short daytime naps may be a part of the puzzle that could help preserve the health of the brain as we get older,” said Dr. Victoria Garfield, a senior author of the study.
Past studies have revealed that napping offers cognitive benefits after individuals who took a short nap performed better in cognitive tests as opposed to individuals who did not.
However, this particular study aimed to go further– establishing whether or not there was a causal relationship between brain health and daytime napping.
The team used a technique known as Mendelian randomization to analyze 97 DNA pieces believed to determine the likelihood of habitual napping.
Afterward, the researchers compared the brain health and cognition of individuals who were more likely to nap with people who did not have the same genetic variants. This was accomplished using the data of 378,932 people collected from the UK Biobank study.
This work revealed that people who were more genetically programmed to nap had a larger total rain volume.