WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — Middle-age and older adults who nap during the daytime are two-and-a-half times more likely to die from respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia due to inflammation in the body.

Researchers from Cambridge University found that people who take naps for an hour or more during the daytime may be putting themselves at an increased risk for lung diseases, and the link between napping and the risk of dying was the highest among people ages 40-65 who take daytime naps, LiveScience reports.

Those middle-aged nap-takers between the ages of 40-65 were nearly twice as likely to die during the study period if they napped for more than one hour, in comparison to people who did not take naps. People ages 40 to 79 who napped daily, for less than an hour, were 14 percent more likely to die over a 13-year period, and this was linked to the development of respiratory ailments.

The researchers said the reason for the link is unknown, and that the cause may actually be reversed: people who take naps also happen to have medical conditions that increase their risk of dying.

“Further studies are needed before any recommendations can be made,” the researchers, from the University of Cambridge, wrote in the May issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology. “Excessive daytime napping might be a useful marker of underlying health risks, particularly respiratory problems, especially among those 65 years of age or younger,” they said.

Of the study involving more than 16,000 people in England, the researchers found that those who consistently daytime nap more than one-hour do not receive the same health benefits some studies attribute to short “power naps.”

And past research published in the journal Nature & Neuroscience revealed that 90-minute daytime naps are actually good for people, especially assisting people to improve their memory.

Mid-day naps are common in the United States, with one-third of U.S. adults saying they take a nap on any given day, a Pew Research Center poll revealed. Thirty-eight percent of men and 31 percent of women said they had taken a nap in the past 24 hours. Older adults take naps during the day more frequently, particularly men.

One of the primary links between higher risks of death and respiratory illnesses, sleep apnea, was not directly linked in this study, although people with high BMI’s or high-blood pressure medication were considered likely to be affected by the consistent pauses in breathing while sleeping.

— Benjamin Fearnow


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