Study objectives Daytime napping is frequently reported among the older population and has attracted increasing attention due to its association with multiple health conditions. Here, we tested whether napping in the aged is associated with altered circadian regulation of sleep, sleepiness and vigilance performance.

Methods Sixty healthy older individuals (mean age: 69y., 39 women) were recruited with respect to their napping habits (30 nappers, 30 non-nappers). All participants underwent an in-lab 40-h multiple nap protocol (10 cycles of 80 mins of sleep opportunity alternating with 160 mins of wakefulness), preceded and followed by a baseline and recovery sleep period. Saliva samples for melatonin assessment, sleepiness and vigilance performance were collected during wakefulness and electrophysiological data were recorded to derive sleep parameters during scheduled sleep opportunities.

Results The circadian amplitude of melatonin secretion was reduced in nappers, compared to non-nappers. Furthermore, nappers were characterized by higher sleep efficiencies and REM sleep proportion during day-compared to night-time naps. The nap group also presented altered modulation in sleepiness and vigilance performance at specific circadian phases.

Discussion Our data indicate that napping is associated with an altered circadian sleep-wake propensity rhythm and thereby contribute to the understanding of the biological correlates underlying napping and/or sleep-wake cycle fragmentation during healthy aging. Altered circadian sleep-wake promotion can lead to a less distinct allocation of sleep into night-time and/or a reduced wakefulness drive during the day, thereby potentially triggering the need to sleep at adverse circadian phase.

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Journal: bioRxiv. 2023:2023-08

Keywords: Aging, Chronobiology, circadian sleep-wake regulation, napping, older adults, REM sleep, Sleep,

Applications: Chronobiology,

CamNtech Reference: M23043

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