There are a few things about old age I've always looked forward to: the good excuse to move to a warm climate, playing bingo unironically, my grandchildren finding it charming when I drink whiskey and drop F-bombs, and having the freedom to nap like a toddler without being judged lazy. So I was less than thrilled to read the opening sentence of this article: "A daily nap may boost an elderly woman's risk of dying, a new study suggests." Gah! There goes sleeping off the breakfast whiskey!
Instead, the study offers a lesson in the difference between correlation and causation. A few paragraphs down, we find that "the researchers said people shouldn't link napping to poor health or recommend that seniors skip napping." (I shall politely ignore that the same article in which this line appears essentially begins by doing just that.) Said researchers believe the real problem is that excessive napping might indicate sleep disorders that prevent people from getting adequate nighttime rest -- so the appropriate response is to diagnose and treat the underlying problem, not discourage napping. Also, "numerous past studies ... have found that napping may have health benefits," and even the study under discussion found that elderly white women who napped fewer than three hours a week weren't at any increased risk of early mortality. Whew!
Note to any of my loved ones who are around in 40 years or so: I promise to go to the doctor if I'm having trouble sleeping normally, as long as you promise not to wake me up before happy hour.