Napping for This Many Minutes Makes Your Risk of Death Soar, Study Says

Taking a mid-day snooze for this long poses dangerous risks to your heart and overall well-being.

Laying down for a nap is generally thought to be beneficial for the mind and body. In fact, The Wall Street Journal even reported in 2013 that, according to one doctor, a 60-minute nap is ideal to boost your cognitive memory. However, a recent study shows that your mid-day snooze session may actually do more harm than good for more than just your brain. According to a study presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in August, in those who also sleep over six hours per night, napping for more than 60 minutes is associated with a 30 percent higher risk of death and a 34 percent increase in the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease.

Although lengthier naps are riskier, the researchers at the Guangzhou Medical University in China also found that naps of any length are linked to a 19 percent elevated risk of all-cause death. The study also showed that your sex and age can make your naps more of an issue. Women had a 22 percent greater likelihood of death linked to napping and the death risk among "older participants" rose by 17 percent if they napped.

"Daytime napping is common all over the world and is generally considered a healthy habit," said study author Zhe Pan, MD. "A common view is that napping improves performance and counteracts the negative consequences of 'sleep debt.' Our study challenges these widely held opinions."

Older black man sleeping on a hammock

There have been multiple studies demonstrating the health risks associated with napping, including high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, depression, and anxiety, according to Pan. But the doctor says the reasons napping affects the body negatively are still unclear.

However, Pan points out that some studies have shown a link between longer naps and increased inflammation, which can lead to heart disease and increased risk of death. Additionally, research published in 2019 in the journal Neurology found that people who napped for over an hour and a half were 85 percent more likely to experience a stroke than moderate nappers.

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However, the news about napping isn't all bad. Pan and his team say they did not find a deadly correlation between naps under an hour and cardiovascular disease. In fact, Pan said, naps less than 30 to 45 minutes "might improve heart health in people who sleep insufficiently at night."

So, if you can't seem to keep your mid-day rest short and you're still itching to catch a cat nap, Pan says "it's safest to keep it under an hour." But if you're not much of a napper, the doctor says, "there is no convincing evidence to start." And for more myths about your shuteye, check out 25 Myths About Sleep That Are Keeping You Up at Night.

Allie Hogan
Allie Hogan is a Brooklyn based writer currently working on her first novel. Read more
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