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Wake Up America, Naps May Shorten Your Life

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If you take catnaps during the day, you may want to retrain your body to sleep only overnight. A new University of Cambridge study reported that middle-aged and elderly adults who take daytime naps may have increased chances of dying. Review the results before you once again doze off during the day.

Respiratory Risks of Napping as You Age

A new study of 16,000 adults showed 40- to 79-year-olds who napped less than an hour per day were 14 percent more likely to die over a 13-year period than non-nappers. People whose daily naps lasted an hour or more were 32 percent more prone to die during the study interval. The results took factors that can affect death risk into account. These included age, gender, body mass index (BMI), tobacco usage, exercise and pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and cancer. Findings showed napping can cause inflammation, which may trigger various lung diseases. Researchers associated naps with an increased risk of dying from respiratory illnesses like bronchitis, emphysema and pneumonia. The death risk was highest among the youngest study subjects. People between 40 and 65 were almost twice as likely to die in 13 years if they napped for an hour or more. Researchers were unable to pinpoint specific reasons for this association. They noted that napping may not be the unhealthy component. Instead, people who tend to nap also may have undiagnosed medical conditions that affect their risk of dying. Excessive daytime napping may be a useful marker of underlying health risks, particularly respiratory problems in middle-age adults. Sleep apnea, or frequent pauses in breathing during sleep, can cause daytime sleepiness. Other research links this condition with an increased risk of dying over a given period. The nap study didn’t take into account whether people had sleep apnea, but researchers considered participants with high BMIs who took high blood pressure medications were likely to have sleep apnea.

Deciphering Power Nap Data

The Mayo Clinic compiled data on napping to create pros and cons. The key difference between this and the previous study is the focus on shorter naps for healthy adults. Napping benefits include:
  • Relaxation
  • Reduced fatigue
  • Increased alertness
  • Better mood
  • Improved performance with faster reaction time, enhanced memory, less confusion and fewer accidents and mistakes
Napping isn’t for everyone. Some people have trouble sleeping anywhere besides than their own beds or drifting off during daylight. You may choose to skip naps if you experience the following drawbacks:
  • Sleep inertia. You may feel groggy and disoriented after waking up.
  • Nighttime sleep problems. Naps may worsen insomnia and overnight sleep quality.
To get the most from naps, follow these tips:
  • Time limit. Rest for just 10 to 30 minutes. The longer you nap, the more likely you are to feel woozy afterward.
  • Schedule. The best time is mid-afternoon between 2 and 3 p.m. Post-lunch sleepiness and lower alertness levels encourage rest. Naps during this time also are less likely to interfere with your overnight sleep. Individual factors such as your need for sleep and your sleeping schedule also can help you determine the best time of day to nap.
  • Restful environment. Choose a quiet, dark place with a comfortable temperature and minimal distractions.
  • Recovery. After napping, be sure to give yourself time to wake up before resuming activities that require quick, sharp responses or machinery operation.

Do You Have Trouble Sleeping?

Insomnia is the inability to get the amount of sleep you need to wake up feeling rested and refreshed. The most common sleep complaint at any age, insomnia affects almost half of adults 60 and older. If you havenaps1 insomnia, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
  • Taking more than 30 to 45 minutes to fall asleep
  • Awakening many times each night
  • Waking up early and being unable to get back to sleep
  • Feeling tired the next day instead of rested and refreshed
At times, insomnia may last just a few nights and go away on its own. That’s common with a temporary situation like stress over an upcoming presentation, a fight with your spouse, relocation or jet lag. If insomnia is aggravatingly persistent for more than a month, it becomes chronic, even if you’ve resolved the original cause. The following underlying mental and physical issues can induce chronic insomnia.
  • Psychological problems.Anxiety, depression, chronic stress, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder can interfere with sleep.
  • Medical problems.The most common reason older adults wake up at night is to go to the bathroom. Continence problems in women and enlarged prostates in men are typical causes. Other conditions include allergies, asthma, acid reflux, hot flashes, chronic pain, hyperthyroidism, Parkinson’s disease, kidney disease and cancer.
  • Sleep disorders. Conditions including sleep apnea, narcolepsy and restless legs syndrome can disrupt sustained sleep.

Seek the Right Treatment

Sleep patterns and quality can change as you age, but disturbed sleep on a nightly basis and waking up tired every day aren’t normal aspects of aging. Rather than taking over-the-counter sleeping pills, prolong your life by seeking treatment for any psychiatric and medical conditions that disturb your nightly rest. Your doctor may prescribe medications for underlying conditions and/or prescription sleep aids. Instead of losing sleep over refilling prescriptions on schedule, order from a prompt online Canadian pharmacy.

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