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Is there anything more enjoyable than curling up on a rainy afternoon with a blanket and a book and falling asleep?
You wouldn’t think there’d be any health risks in that!
Yet over the past twenty years or so, scientists have been examining the health implications for people who nap during the day.
Most recently, a team of researchers dug a little deeper. Their findings may have you rethinking how much you nap…
The link between napping and hypertension
A huge study has concluded that regular, frequent napping is correlated with a higher risk of hypertension and stroke.
This finding builds on and confirms previous research. For example, a 2020 analysis of studies found that naps of longer than one hour were associated with a 30 percent greater risk of all-cause death and a 34 percent higher likelihood of hypertension and heart disease, compared to no napping at all.
The present study analyzed 358,451 records from the UK Biobank, a large genetic and medical database drawn from about 500,000 UK residents ages 40 to 69.
The UK Biobank is a rich source of genetic and medical data drawn from about 500,000 UK residents ages 40 through 69. Participants regularly provided updates on their health and filled out periodic questionnaires to assess things like diet, work history, sleep habits, and mental health.
One of these questionnaires was a survey on daytime napping, which took place four times between 2010 and 2019. The answers showed a positive association between napping a lot and being genetically predisposed toward hypertension.
Regular nappers had a 12 percent higher risk of hypertension than “seldom” and “never” nappers, along with a 24 percent higher stroke risk.
What’s notable is that the risk was even higher for younger survey participants. Those below age 60 had a hypertension risk of 20 percent, compared to 10 percent for those over 60.
Improving sleep quality may help
Rather than one causing the other, naps and hypertension might both be symptoms of the same underlying problem.
According to clinical psychologist and sleep expert Dr. Michael Grandner of the University of Arizona, taking more naps seems to reflect an increased risk for problems with heart health that may be connected to overall sleep habits.
“Although taking a nap itself is not harmful, many people who take naps may do so because of poor sleep at night. Poor sleep at night is associated with poorer health, and naps are not enough to make up for that,” he says.
In other words, frequent daytime napping may be a sign that you’re not sleeping well throughout the night, and that you’re trying, unsuccessfully, to make up for it with a lot of daytime napping.
If sleep apnea is the reason, that’s a danger that certainly needs to be addressed.
What does this mean for you?
Again, although no causal relationship was discovered between napping and either hypertension or stroke and heart disease, it’s worth taking a look at your sleep patterns, especially if they’re giving you trouble.
Just listen to what the researchers had to say.
“Our study, along with previous clinical studies, suggests that further examination of the mechanistic basis of the association between a healthy sleep pattern, including daytime napping, and cardiovascular disease is necessary.”
In other words, it’s worth taking these findings seriously and using them to protect your health.
One other finding from this study is that if you’re napping more than you used to, that could be a cause for concern.
Here’s what the study had to say:
“Increased nap frequency, reported by around a quarter of the participants, is also a cause for concern. Increasing napping frequency by just one category on the survey – for example, from never to sometimes — increased the risk of hypertension by 40 percent.”
It’s important to note that another study found that daytime sleepiness affected a key marker of aging, the telomeres. Telomeres are “caps” on the end of each DNA strand that protect the chromosomes, and are key to the body’s aging process. As people get older, their telomeres naturally get shorter, which exposes your chromosomes to more damage and can lead to the development of life-threatening health issues.
If you find yourself drowsier during the day than you used to be, make sure you’re keeping up with your regular checkups so your doctor can be sure nothing’s going on with your heart health he’s not already aware of.
It may also be time to take a look at how you can get a better night’s sleep.
Create a bedtime routine that will help you sleep like a toddler, and also…
- Get in some light physical activity every day: walking, yoga or golf are good examples. Just don’t exercise within two hours of bedtime. It can have the opposite effect and make it hard to fall asleep.
- Use essential oils to help you relax and get to sleep.
Editor’s note: There are numerous safe and natural ways to decrease your risk of blood clots including the 25-cent vitamin, the nutrient that acts as a natural blood thinner and the powerful herb that helps clear plaque. To discover these and more, click here for Hushed Up Natural Heart Cures and Common Misconceptions of Popular Heart Treatments!
Long naps may be bad for health — Eureka Alert