New study shows that napping may be a risk factor for stroke and high blood pressure.

More than one-third of adults in the United States nap during the day, many indicating that the naps help them to relax and to feel better rested.

On the other hand, according to a trusted source published today, taking a regular daytime nap might make one more prone to stroke and hypertension.

A research team in China has turned to the UK Biobank, an extensive biomedical database and research resource. This site contains genetic, lifestyle, and health information from more than 500,000 people.

Participants in this study were aged 40 to 69 and lived in the United Kingdom from 2006 to 2010. Every person who was part of the study provided blood, urine, and saliva samples.

Without knowing their identities or anything else, the scientists in this study simply asked them if they had napped during the day four times between 2006 and 2019. By eliminating the people who had previously been diagnosed with hypertension or who had suffered a stroke before beginning the study, the scientists had information on 360,000 individuals. It took about 11 years on average for follow-ups to happen after the start of the study.

The participants were separated into three groups according to their nap frequency:

  • Those who never/rarely napped,
  • Those who sometimes napped, and
  • Those who usually napped.

In the study, the following results were found:

“It is important to note that a majority of the ‘usual-nappers’ reported other conditions or lifestyle factors that could contribute to high blood pressure,” says Dr. Samuel Werner DO, an assistant professor at the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine in New Jersey.

“We have known for decades that smoking contributes to cardiovascular issues and people with untreated sleep apnea do not get quality sleep because they wake, often without knowing it, throughout the night.”

The vast majority of “usual nappers” were male, low-income, with lower levels of education, smoked cigarettes, drank regularly, snored, and reported to be evening/night people. In comparison to people who never or rarely napped, people who usually napped had a 12 percent higher chance of developing high blood pressure and a 24 percent higher chance of having a participants who were 60 or younger and said they usually take naps have a 20% higher risk of developing hypertension than those who don’t take naps or nap rarely.

“Previous studies Trusted Source have found that higher BMIs, which can in part, be caused by drinking, can increase the risk for high blood pressure and stroke,” said Werner.

Nearly three-fourths of the participants were in the same category throughout the study period. For those whose napping frequency increased by one category, such as from sometimes to usually napping, the risk of high blood pressure increased by 40%.

What Naps Might Indicate

People who spend too much time napping during the day may be more at risk for high blood pressure and strokes. They say the naps themselves aren’t harmful, but that they could be an indicator of bad sleep quality during the night that does have adverse effects on the whole body. The general recommendation is that a nap not exceed thirty minutes, and that one avoid taking a nap at the tail end of the day. By eating a plant-based diet and exercising for at least 30 minutes every day, people can lower their blood pressure.

The study has several limitations, including:

  • Nap durations were not recorded or asked, which may have affected health outcomes.
  • Many of the participants were middle-aged or older and had European descent, so the results might not be transferable to other populations.
  • frequency of napping was self-reported, meaning it may not be reliable.

Suggestions for Preventing Hypertension
In order to reduce your risk of hypertension and stroke, there are a few things you can do.

Freeman advises those having difficulty sleeping to include the following practices in their routines-

  • Eat a well-balanced, plant-based diet, or vegetarian diet.
  • A minimum of 30 minutes of exercise per day is advisable.
  • Build a strong social network.
  • Reduce your stress by practicing relaxation techniques.

“But even more important, is contacting your doctor. People who have daytime sleepiness, have the need to nap, or wake up feeling tired, should reach out to their doctor,” said Werner.

Additionally he said,“Fatigue is a warning sign that shouldn’t be ignored,”. “It is the first sign for a multitude of serious medical conditions, such as cancer, kidney disease, depression, and multiple sclerosis. You and your doctor should work together to determine the underlying reason for daytime sleepiness so that condition can be treated.”

How to get the most out of your nap

The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following nap schedules for you to consider if you decide to take a nap

  • A short nap of between 10 to 20 minutes provides restorative sleep without leaving you drowsy afterward.
  • Aim to nap at about halfway between waking and going to bed, rather than after a long, hard day.
  • Sleeping later than this may make it more difficult to sleep at night.
  • Go find the perfect spot to take a nap. Nap in a cozy, cool, dark and soundless place.
  • To sleep better, use techniques to relax like meditation or progressive muscle relaxation to release all of your worries.

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