Nothing beats a long hard nap. Sadly, indulging in them too frequently may yield serious health consequences.
In research presented at last year’s European Society of Cardiology conference (ESC), a team of academics from Guangzhou Medical University determined that napping for more than an hour a day raises one’s risk for all-cause death by 30% and cardiovascular disease by 34%.
“Daytime napping is common all over the world and is generally considered a healthy habit,” study author Dr. Zhe Pan in a media release. “A common view is that napping improves performance and counteracts the negative consequences of ‘sleep debt’. Our study challenges these widely held opinions.
The new meta-data was derived from 313,651 participants who had independently participated in 20 previously conducted studies. Thirty-nine percent of the sample said that they routinely took naps that exceeded an hour. On balance, daily naps could raise one’s risk for early death by roughly 19%.
Further analysis seemed to indicate that it was less about the frequency of naps and more about what the frequency said about a person’s overall sleep health. A quick nap here and there appeared to be ok to make up for insufficient sleep. But the conditions that make napping healthy were much more specific than the ones that made it a risk.
Having said that, the mechanisms behind napping’s connection to early death were all correlative. Moreover, the authors concede that the bulk of these is still unknown.
It could be the nappers more likely to endure conditions like high blood pressure or inflammation that are compounded by frequent naps.
For whatever reason, the authors of the report found that those who slept more than six hours a night and routinely napped were impacted more severely by the negative health effects listed above.
Women and older participants evidenced the highest risks with respect to afternoon napping. Women who napped for any length of time showcased a 22% higher risk of death while older participants took on a 17% higher risk, compared to the rest of the participants who didn’t routinely nap.
A lot of serious conditions occur as a result of sudden metabolic changes. Diet and sleep may be the most influential methods of inducing this. Even without all of the relevant data, it stands to reason that regularly sleeping against your circadian rhythm encourages dramatic health effects.
“The results suggest that shorter naps (especially those less than 30 to 45 minutes) might improve heart health in people who sleep insufficiently at night,” Zhe Pan concluded. “If you want to take a siesta, our study indicates it’s safest to keep it under an hour. For those of us not in the habit of a daytime slumber, there is no convincing evidence to start.”