If you caught yesterday’s Reality Health Check, then you know that a good night’s sleep can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. So now, allow me to issue a serious caveat to those findings: When it comes to shuteye, it is possible to get too much of a good thing.
In fact, the journal Neurology published a study late last year showing that people who take long naps during the day—or sleep in excess of nine hours at night—could be headed for disaster.
More sleep, more problems
This study looked at more than 31,000 Chinese subjects with an average age of 62 years. Researchers quizzed them on sleep and napping habits, and found that eight percent took daytime naps longer than 90 minutes, while nearly 25 percent reported sleeping nine or more hours nightly.
None of the study’s participants had a history of stroke or any other major health issues when the study started. But over roughly six years of follow-up, 1,557 suffered a stroke.
And get this: Analysis showed that the subjects who slept nine or more hours nightly were 23 percent more likely to fall into this unfortunate category. (That’s compared with people who slept seven to eight hours per night.)
This was even after accounting for a host of other key stroke risk factors—including high blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking.
Meanwhile, subjects who took midday naps longer than 90 minutes were 25 percent more likely to suffer a stroke down the line than people who took shorter naps of 30 minutes or less. (In this study, people who didn’t nap at all, or who took naps shorter than an hour, were no more likely to suffer a stroke than people who took the shorter “power naps.”)
Finally, the subjects who were long nappers and long sleepers were 85 percent more likely to wind up having a stroke than their counterparts with more moderate sleep habits. Sleep quality mattered, too, with people reporting poor, interrupted sleep being nearly 30 percent more likely to suffer a stroke than those who enjoyed sound sleep every night.
The “Goldilocks effect”
Once again, we’re talking about an observational study—so the researchers were quick to caution against drawing any conclusions about oversleeping as a cause of stroke. But between you and me, I think it’s a pretty safe assumption to make.
I’ve written about the potential metabolic dangers of napping, in particular, before. And it’s worth pointing out that, in most cases, the relationship between napping and risk was “J-shaped.”
In one instance, subjects who napped fewer than 40 minutes suffered no increased health risks. But when daytime naps lasted longer than 40 minutes, metabolic risk took a very sharp upswing.
In fact, subjects who routinely clocked 90-minute naps saw their risk of metabolic syndrome rise by as much as 50 percent.
And unfortunately, other research has revealed terrifyingly similar results, showing that naps longer than one hour raise the risk of heart disease by more than 80 percent—and the risk of death by any cause by nearly 30 percent.
But before you swear off naps altogether, consider the fact that all of these studies also showed an interesting “Goldilocks effect.” And naps shorter than 30 minutes actually appear to deliver modest protection.
So if you find taking a short “power nap” helps you recharge your batteries, by all means, continue catching some mid-day ZZZ’s. Just do yourself a favor and set an alarm so that you don’t sleep for longer than 30 minutes.
And don’t use naps of any kind as a substitute for a good night’s sleep. As always, I recommend seven to nine hours of quality shuteye each and every night. But if you struggle with getting the quality rest you need, I encourage you to check out my Perfect Sleep Protocol. This innovative, online learning tool outlines full details on dozens of drug-free solutions to help you battle insomnia—and enjoy perfect sleep for life. To learn more, or to enroll today, click here now.
“Take long naps? Sleep more than nine hours a night? Your stroke risk may be higher.” Science Daily, 12/11/2019. (sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/12/191211171146.htm)