Effects of a nap on nighttime sleep and waking function in older subjects

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2005 Jan;53(1):48-53. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2005.53009.x.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging*
  • Body Temperature / physiology
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Cognition
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polysomnography
  • Sleep*