Mortality risk greater for elderly women who nap daily

March 04, 2009

San Francisco, Calif. - March 04, 2009 - A new study appearing in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society has found that older women who reported taking daily naps had a significantly greater risk of dying. The results of the study are in contrast to a number of prior studies which have indicated that daily napping improves health.

Four communities consisting of 8,101 Caucasian women aged 69 and older were studied over a 7-year period. Women who reported napping daily were 44 percent more likely to die from any cause, 58 percent more likely to die from cardiovascular causes and 59 percent more likely to die from non-cardiovascular, non-cancer causes. This relationship remained significant among relatively healthy women.

The findings also showed that older women who reported sleeping between 9-10 hours per 24-hour period also had a greater risk of mortality compared to those who slept between 8-9 hours. The association was strongest for cardiovascular-related mortality.

The results of this study should not be interpreted to mean that napping causes poor health outcomes, and it is not recommended that older adults avoid napping. Napping and long sleep duration may be caused by sleepiness due to underlying sleep disorders or other medical conditions. "Since excessive sleep suggests that night time sleep is disrupted, interventions to treat sleep disorders and improve sleep quality in older women may reduce mortality risk," says Katie L. Stone, co-author of the study. Additional studies are needed to explain why napping is linked with increased risk of death.

Noted in the study, however, was that elderly women who napped less than 3 hours per week were not at increased risk of mortality compared to women who did not nap at all. "Shorter and less frequent naps do not appear to be related to any increase in risk of death," says Stone.
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This study is published in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article may contact medicalnews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net

Katie L. Stone, M.A., Ph.D., is a scientist at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute. She can be reached for questions by contacting Kevin McCormack at (415)600-7484.

The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society is a comprehensive and reliable source of monthly research and information about common diseases and disorders of older adults. For more information, please visit www.blackwellpublishing.com/jgs.

Wiley-Blackwell was formed in February 2007 as a result of the acquisition of Blackwell Publishing Ltd. by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., and its merger with Wiley's Scientific, Technical, and Medical business. Together, the companies have created a global publishing business with deep strength in every major academic and professional field.

Wiley-Blackwell publishes approximately 1,400 scholarly peer-reviewed journals and an extensive collection of books with global appeal. For more information on Wiley-Blackwell, please visit www.wiley-blackwell.com or http://interscience.wiley.com.

Wiley

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