Is napping bad for you? Naps linked to high blood pressure, stroke – USA TODAY

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Frequent or even usual napping during the day was linked with an elevated risk of developing high blood pressure and having a stroke, according to a new study.  

The peer-reviewed study, published on Monday in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension, found that frequent or usual daytime napping in adults “was associated with a 12% higher risk of developing high blood pressure and a 24% high risk of having a stroke compared to never napping,” according to a Monday news release.  

“These results are especially interesting since millions of people might enjoy a regular, or even daily nap,” said E. Wang, a professor and chair of the department of anesthesiology at Xiangya Hospital Central South University in Changsha, China, and an author of the study. 

Researchers acquired information from UK Biobank, a biomedical database that contains anonymized genetic and health information from half a million participants in the United Kingdom. A survey of daytime napping frequency occurred four times between 2006 and 2019, with each time including at least 5,000 participants. Participants self-reported whether they nap “never/rarely,” “sometimes” or “usually.”  

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The study results also differed depending on participants’ ages.  

Participants who were younger than 60 who usually napped had “a 20% higher risk of developing high blood pressure compared to people the same age who never napped.”

“After age 60, usual napping was associated with 10% higher risk of high blood pressure compared to those who reported never napping,” according to the news release.  

The study also found that a higher percentage of people who described themselves “usual” nappers were men, reported cigarette smoking, drinking daily and insomnia. They also had lower income levels, which the study defines as an average total household income before tax of less than or equal to 18,000 pounds, or approximately $22,000.

“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,” Michael A. Grandner, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona in Tucson, said in the news release. 

Researchers noted that the study has several limitations. It examined napping frequency, not duration, so napping habits could include a range of nap lengths. The frequency of naps was also self-reported, without specific measurements given to participants.

The people involved in the study were also mostly middle-aged and elderly adults with European ancestry, so the results may not be generalized for all people.