The results of a new study from the European Society of Cardiology indicate that napping can be extremely bad for your health. The researchers discovered that people who get six or more hours of sleep, but still take long naps, have a much greater risk of premature death and heart disease.
“Daytime napping is common all over the world and is generally considered a healthy habit,” said study co-author Dr. Zhe Pan of Guangzhou Medical University. “A common view is that napping improves performance and counteracts the negative consequences of ‘sleep debt.’ Our study challenges these widely held opinions.”
Previous research on the health risks of napping produced contradictory results, and these studies failed to account for the duration of nighttime sleep. The current investigation was focused on more than 300,000 participants from 20 studies. Among these individuals, 40 percent took naps.
The analysis revealed that napping for more than one hour was associated with a 30-percent greater risk of death from any cause and a 34-percent greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease. When the researchers factored in nighttime sleep habits, long naps were linked with an elevated risk of death among those who slept more than six hours per night.
Individuals who napped for any amount of time had a 19-percent higher chance of death, and the connection was more pronounced in women and older adults.
Short naps with a duration of less than one hour did not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. In fact, the results suggest that shorter naps less than 45 minutes may improve heart health in people who do not get sufficient sleep at night.
Dr. Pan said the reasons why napping affects the body are still uncertain, but some studies have suggested that extra sleep in the daytime is associated with higher levels of inflammation, which is risky for heart health and longevity.
“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,” said Dr. Pan.
The research was presented at the ESC Congress 2020 The Digital Experience.