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Free Content Actigraphy suggests age-related differences in napping and nocturnal sleep

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The aim of this study was to contrast the time distribution of out-of-bed napping in young and older adults through recordings of wrist activity, and to evaluate the correlates of napping with nocturnal sleep. Seventy-three young adults between 18 and 32 years and 60 older adults between 60 and 75 years of age participated in the study. Subjects were selected for good general health and had few sleep complaints. They wore wrist-activity monitors and kept daily sleep logs for 1 week. Automatic sleep scoring was edited by the authors, supplemented by sleep logs and illumination data as well as activity data. Napping episodes were modestly increased in older adults, but there was no difference in the daily duration of napping. Older adults napped more in the evening (especially within 2 h before bedtime), whereas young adults napped more in the afternoon. The older adults with evening naps (n = 31) showed earlier nocturnal wake-up times and decreased nocturnal sleep duration compared with the older adults without evening naps (n = 29). There was no difference in nocturnal sleep between young adults with afternoon naps (n = 32) and without afternoon naps (n = 41). In determining the effects of napping on nocturnal sleep, timing of napping and age are important. Maintaining alertness during the evening (e.g. by bright light exposure or moderate exercise) would be a possible approach to delay wake-up times in older adults.
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Keywords: aging; circadian; naps; sleep; wrist activity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychiatry and Sam and Rose Stein, Institute for Research on Aging, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA

Publication date: 2003-06-01

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