In Mediterranean cultures, napping is a normal part of the daily routine. It’s part of people’s normal sleep pattern, and it’s associated with positive health, presumably because it helps relieve stress.

However, in cultures where napping is not a normal part of a routine, it may be a sign of sleeping problems that can lead to early death, according to a recent study of British sleeping habits.

Longer Napping Means Higher Risk

In this study, researchers followed more than 16,000 Britons for more than 13 years. They correlated the number of deaths with the napping habits of individuals and found that napping was correlated with a significantly higher risk of all-cause mortality.

Researchers found that people who napped for less than an hour a day were 14% more likely to die, while those who napped for one hour or longer were 32% more likely to die. This overall mortality correlation was independent of age, sex, social class, education level, marital status, employment status, body mass index, physical activity level, smoking status, alcohol intake, time spent in bed at night, and other confounders.

When looking at deaths due to respiratory illness for people under age 65, the correlation was even higher. People who napped for less than an hour a day were 40% more likely to die of respiratory illness, while those who napped for more than an hour a day were 156% more likely to die of a respiratory illness.

What Does Your Napping Mean?

Napping can be a pleasant diversion in the middle of the day. It’s nice sometimes to let yourself doze off of an afternoon and enjoy a little respite from the world. However, if you find yourself suffering daily from fatigue and feeling the need for a nap, it’s quite possible that it’s a sign of a serious health problem.

One of the most common and serious causes of daytime fatigue is sleep apnea. Sleep apnea disrupts your nighttime sleeping, leaving you feeling unrested during the day. Along with sapping your energy, sleep apnea strains your heart and brain, leading to other serious causes, including cardiovascular disease and mood disorders.

If you are napping because you feel you have to, not because you want to, you should talk to your doctor or a sleep dentist about sleep apnea. For an appointment at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center in Omaha, Nebraska, please call 402-493-4175 today.