By Tracy Cabrera
WHEREAS for most Filipinos short naps could invigorate their physical well-being, health experts are now warning against taking naps of longer than one hour because they can be a cause of heart disease—and may even trigger an early death.
Based on a new study, researchers found that long naps in the afternoon are associated with a 30 percent greater risk of dying young and a 34 percent higher likelihood of cardiovascular disease compared to not napping.
Scientists said that many people believed that an afternoon ‘siesta’ gave an energy boost and did no harm, but the findings by Chinese scientists suggest that drifting off for more than 60 minutes could be risky.
Study author Dr. Zhe Pan of Guangzhou Medical University said: “Daytime napping is common all over the world and is generally considered a healthy habit because most believe that napping improves performance and counteracts the negative consequences of ‘sleep debt’. Our study challenges these widely held opinions.”
The Chinese team summarized available evidence to assess the relationship between napping and the risks of dying and cardiovascular disease. A total of more than 313,000 participants from more than 20 studies were included in the analysis.
The analysis found that long naps—classified as more than an hour in duration—were associated with greater risk of any cause of death and higher likelihood of cardiovascular disease.
When night-time sleep was taken into account, long naps were linked with an elevated risk of death only in those who slept more than six hours per night.
Overall, naps of any length were linked with a 19 percent elevated risk of death.
The connection was more pronounced in women, who had a 22 per cent greater likelihood of death with napping compared to no napping, and older participants, whose risk rose by 17 per cent with naps.
Meanwhile, short naps—less than 60 minutes—were found to have less risk in developing cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Pan said: “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.”
As final thought, Dr Pan said that “if you want to take a siesta, our study indicates it’s safest to keep it under an hour, and for those of us not in the habit of a daytime slumber, there is no convincing evidence to start with.”