The Power of a Good Nap

Next time you nap, you can rest easy. Because it turns out that if you snooze, you don’t lose. Taking a nap can positively affect cognitive function in older adults, according to a recent Chinese study in General Psychiatry of participants age 60 and up. 

Camelia Musleh, MD, a neurologist with NorthShore University HealthSystem, says naps may help reduce the level of adenosine, a hormone that accumulates in the brain during the day and can make people feel tired. “A nap can improve energy and alertness, improve cognitive performance, and improve your mood,” she says. 

People should keep naps to between 10 to 20 minutes and should set a timer, so they don’t drift into deeper stages of sleep. Naps should leave older adults feeling energized and refreshed, Musleh says. 

If naps run too long, the person may struggle to go to bed at their regular time. “Time the nap for early afternoon, ideally at least eight hours before bedtime,” Musleh says. 

So, get some shut-eye. Doctor’s orders.