Afternoon Napping and Cognition in Chinese Older Adults: Findings from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study Baseline Assessment

Junxin Li, Pamela Z. Cacchione, Nancy Hodgson, Barbara Riegel, Brendan T. Keenan, Mathew T. Scharf, Kathy C. Richards, Nalaka S. Gooneratne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Objectives: To examine the cross-sectional associations between self-reported postlunch napping and structured cognitive assessments in Chinese older adults. Design: Cross-sectional cohort study. Setting: China. Participants: Individuals aged 65 and older from the baseline national wave of the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS) (N = 2,974). Measurements: Interview-based cognitive assessments of orientation and attention, episodic memory, visuospatial abilities, and a combined global cognition score incorporating these assessments. Other self-reported or interview-based assessments included postlunch napping duration, nighttime sleep duration, demographic characteristics, health habits, comorbidities, functional status and social activities. According to reported napping duration, older adults were categorized as non-nappers (0 minutes), short nappers (<30 minutes), moderate nappers (30–90 minutes), and extended nappers (>90 minutes). Results: Postlunch napping was reporting in 57.7% of participants for a mean of 63 minutes. Cognitive function was significantly associated with napping (P <.001). Between-group comparisons showed that moderate nappers had better overall cognition than nonnappers (P <.001) or extended nappers (P =.01). Nonnappers also had significantly poorer cognition than short nappers (P =.03). In multiple regression analysis, moderate napping was significantly associated with better cognition than non- (P =.004), short (P =.04), and extended napping (P =.002), after controlling for demographic characteristics, body mass index, depression, instrumental activities of daily living, social activities, and nighttime sleep duration. Conclusion: A cross-sectional association was found between moderate postlunch napping and better cognition in Chinese older adults. The cross-sectional design and self-reported measures of sleep limited the findings. Longitudinal studies with objective napping measures are needed to further test this hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-380
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • cognition
  • older adults
  • postlunch napping
  • sleep duration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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