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Is napping bad for you?

A new study claims that older women who take daily naps have a higher chance of dying from various causes than those who keep a normal nightly sleep schedule.

Katie L. Stone, Ph.D of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society recently released a new study that argues against previous claims that napping will improve one’s health. During this 7-year study of 8,101 women, 69 and older, 1,922 women who claimed to nap everyday died. Of these women, 44% were more likely to die from any cause, 58% were more likely to die from cardiovascular causes, and 59% were more likely to die from non-cardiovascular and non-cancer causes, according to the study. Although these statistics also held true for those who were unhealthy, the results still held strong in relatively healthy women as well.

“Women who reported daily naps tended to be older, have a history of medical conditions, and be depressed or cognitively impaired,” said also said that these women were less likely to report taking part in exercise, consuming alcohol, using estrogen (to prevent Alzheimer’s Disease), and slept significantly more in a 24 hour period.

“I think the best thing to prevent tiredness is to drink lots of water and to watch your stress level,” said 78 year old Mills College yoga teacher Jeanne Dowell. “Stress causes depression and we get tired.” Dowell does not nap every day, but she does take time out of each day to rest and read a book or the newspaper. “If I do nap, I rarely sleep over 20 min,” she says. And she does not nap more than three times a week, but Dowell said she needs this time to get “mentally away” from everything. Dowell recommends her students taking some time out every day for a little rest and relaxation which she believes helps relieve people from daily stresses. She also believes that long naps can affect one’s nightly sleep.

Mills College nursing major Christine Thrasher found the napping statistics a bit disturbing. “It might have something to do with a circadian rhythm thing if earlier sleep is throwing off nightly sleeping schedules.” Thrasher also brings up the thought of whether or not this new discovery has anything to do with reaching REM sleep during naps or not. “You need less sleep as you get older but I never thought about the negative effects of getting too much sleep.” quotes Stone as saying, “Since excessive sleep suggests that night time sleep is disrupted, interventions to treat sleep disorders and improve sleep quality in older women may reduce mortality risk.”

In addition to having negative effects from napping, women who reported sleeping for 9-10 hours at night also had earlier deaths. However, women who slept 8-9 hours at night and reported napping less than three times a week had a normal life span. This association was most commonly found with cardiovascular diseases.

In addition, those who reported sleeping less than 6 hours per night yet also napped during the day had a significantly higher risk of mortality in relation to those who claimed to sleep 6 to 8 hours per night. This mortality risk was found prevalent in both cardiovascular diseases and non-cardiovascular non-cancerous diseases.

When one wakes up from a nap there is an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. said, “This closely resembles conditions soon after waking up in the morning, when the onset of acute cardiovascular events is common,” the researchers said.

Researchers of this study said on that they understand that this study may be limited to the results of their own self-reported information and say this could be an issue because it “would capture only intentional naps.” There are still additional studies needed to explain why napping is linked with an increased risk of death, said