For some, taking a nap is one of life’s greatest pleasures. It can refresh you, reset your mind, or offer a kickstart to your energy level, especially if like one in three Americans you don’t get the recommended sleep requirements to provide you with optimal health.
In recent years, there’s been a lot of studies around naps and napping, often with contradictory headlines. So is napping good or bad for you? Well, like many things, it depends.
A recent metastudy found that taking long naps (lasting longer than 60 minutes) can negatively impact your health. 39% of the study participants reported regularly taking naps. Those who took naps longer than 60 minutes had a 34% higher risk of cardiovascular disease and a 30% increased risk of premature death.
It's important to note that people with health issues or chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes may nap more frequently which could affect these results. Additionally, needing to nap during the day may be a symptom of poor nighttime sleep caused by underlying health factors, rather than a need to relax.
According to the same study, any nap was tied to a 19% increase in early death and up to 22% for women. However, the study author says not to panic yet—short naps under an hour long did not contribute to cardiovascular disease, one of the factors involved with decreased longevity. Short naps a few times a week could improve overall health by improving cognitive function through alertness.
When and how long to nap
Many cultures have a tradition of taking a short nap in the afternoon, such as the siesta in Europe or wǔshuì in China. This practice aligns with the natural sleep patterns, known as circadian rhythms. Taking a 10- to 30-minute nap in the afternoon can improve your health by making you feel more refreshed and energized for the rest of the day. The more alert you are, the better your brain can function, which can affect your overall health and longevity. Health experts advise against napping too late in the afternoon as it can disrupt nighttime sleep.
So should you take that nap?
The long and short of it (wink) is that napping a few times a week for under 60 minutes could resort in a little more pep in your step. Try not to nap after 3 pm, as it could mess with your nighttime sleep. Frequent naps over 60 minutes might require a medical consultation, as there could be underlying health issues that could affect your night sleep, and ultimately your longevity. 230125-2700549