Every now and then, one of us has trouble sleeping. You can be stressed out about a major day that’s coming up or you might find yourself in a high-stakes situation. Regardless of motive, taking a nap occasionally is a fantastic way to unwind after a demanding day or recuperate from a late night, but they might be doing more damage than good. According to a new study published in the journal Hypertension, taking frequent daytime naps has been linked to a higher-than-normal risk of elevated blood pressure and an increased risk of stroke.
The Negative Side of Napping
Researchers at Central South University used information from the U.K. Biobank, a biological database that contains details about 500,000 anonymous individuals’ lifestyles and health that were collected between 2006 and 2010. Participants gave biological samples in addition to behavioural data, such as how often they took naps during the day.
The sample size was reduced by the researchers to about 360,000 people by excluding those people who had a prior history of hypertension or stroke. After an average follow-up of 11 years, they examined those people who had admitted to regularly sleeping throughout the day and the likelihood of developing high blood pressure or having a stroke later on.
Regular nappers had a 24% increased risk of stroke and a 12% increased risk of developing high blood pressure in later life. These figures fluctuated somewhat, with younger people having a larger lifetime risk than older people. A shift in behaviour from never napping to occasionally or regularly napping was also linked to higher health risks.
The Underlying Causes
It is still not apparent what causes the association specifically, and it’s likely that something other than naps, in general, is to blame. Instead, they might be yet another sign of a deeper issue. According to research, frequently taking naps may result from getting little sleep at night. Even while they are calming and beneficial, naps might not be able to compensate for poor overnight sleep, which may ultimately be the root of future health issues.
Men who claimed regular use of tobacco, and alcohol, as well as sleeplessness and snoring, all of which may have an effect on heart health, were also more likely to report frequent napping. There could be a hereditary component as well. The research discovered a link between frequent naps and a hereditary tendency to high blood pressure. There are many moving parts that all work together in our health, as with other things, and no one part is likely to be solely to blame.
However, if you frequently feel the need to take a nap throughout the day, it may be worthwhile to assess your lifestyle and figure out how to improve your sleep habits so that you can remain alert all day.