A new study shows that frequent naps are linked to high blood pressure and stroke

  • A new study shows how regular naps may put you at risk of high blood pressure and stroke.
  • Compared to people who never naps, people who usually naps have a 12% higher likelihood of developing high blood pressure and a 24% higher likelihood of having a stroke.
  • “This may be because, although napping in and of itself is not harmful, many people who take naps may do so due to a lack of sleep at night.”

Afternoon naps may seem harmless, but new research suggests that a regular nap schedule may be detrimental to your heart health.

A new study has been published in Hypertension, a journal of the American Heart Association, has shown that people who often nap have a higher chance of developing high blood pressure and having a stroke. This is the first study to use both observational analysis of participants over a long period of time and Mendelian randomization–a genetic risk validation to check whether frequent naps are associated with high blood pressure and stroke.

Researchers studied 358,451 participants free of high blood pressure or stroke from the UK Biobank. They used these participants to analyze the relationship between naps and first-time reports of stroke or high blood pressure, with an average follow-up report of about 11 years. Participants were divided into groups based on their self-repetition of naps: ‘never/rarely’, ‘sometimes’, or ‘usually’.

In the study, when compared to people who had never naps, people who usually naps had a 12% higher likelihood of developing high blood pressure and a 24% higher likelihood of having a stroke. The researchers also found that participants under the age of 60 who usually naps had a 20% higher risk of developing high blood pressure compared to people of the same age who did not nap. After age 60, habitual naps were associated with a 10% increased risk of developing high blood pressure compared to those who never reported.

A higher proportion of men who took regular naps, had lower education and income, reported smoking cigarettes, daily drinking, insomnia, snoring, and being an evening person compared to people who never or occasionally nap.

About three-quarters of the participants stayed in the same category of naps (never, sometimes, usually) throughout the study period. Mendelian randomization showed that if napping frequency was increased by one category (from never to sometimes or sometimes to habit), the risk of hypertension increased by 40%. A higher nap rate has also been linked to a genetic predisposition to high blood pressure risk.

These findings held true even after the researchers excluded people at high risk of developing high blood pressure, such as those with type 2 diabetes, current high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep disturbances, and those who did night shifts.

The study concluded that the analyzes demonstrated that an increased frequency of daytime naps may be a risk factor responsible for essential hypertension. The cause-and-effect relationship of increased frequency of naps with stroke was further supported by both randomized and observational outcomes.

In a statement from the American Heart Association, study author E Wang, MD, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Anesthesiology at Xiangya Central South University Hospital, explained, “These findings are particularly interesting because millions of people may enjoy regular or even daily naps. “.

“This may be because, although napping in and of itself is not harmful, many people who nap may do so due to poor sleep at night,” said Michael A. Granner, PhD, MTR, sleep expert and co-author of the Heart Association. New American Life’s Essential Life.8 Cardiovascular Health Score, which added sleep duration in June 2022 as the eighth metric for measuring optimal heart and brain health.” This study mirrors other findings that generally show that taking more naps appears to reflect an increased risk of heart health and other problems. Grander is director of the Sleep Health Research Program and Clinical Behavioral Sleep Medicine and assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona in Tucson, and was not involved in the study.

As with any study, there are some limitations to consider. For example, researchers only collected the number of daytime naps, not their duration, so there is no information about how or whether nap length affects blood pressure or stroke risk. In addition, self-reported naps without any objective measurements, making the estimates uncomputable. Most of the study participants were middle-aged and elderly people of European ancestry, so the results may not be generalizable. Finally, researchers have not yet discovered the biological mechanism of the effect of daytime naps on blood pressure or stroke regulation, so additional research is needed before this conclusion can be reached.

So what can you take away from this new research?

Sleep is an essential part of our heart health. If we don’t get our good night’s sleep and take more naps during the day to make up for those lost Zs, our heart health can still take a heavy toll. To avoid the additional risks of high blood pressure and stroke, make sure you get all the good hours of sleep you need and that naps are kept to a minimum.

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