People who nap during the day are more likely to develop high blood pressure and stroke, study finds
- Frequent napping is linked to higher risk of stroke and high blood pressure, new research suggests.
- But naps may not be the problem. People who nap tend to have other risk factors, like poor sleep at night.
Researchers from Central South University in China looked at data from nearly 360,000 UK adults over about 11 years of follow-up to compare napping habits with blood pressure and stroke risk.
They found participants who routinely napped during the day had a 12% higher risk of developing high blood pressure, and a 24% higher risk of stroke, than their peers who never napped.
Data also suggests that the risk would increase if participants who never napped did so occasionally, or if they went from napping sometimes to often.
However, napping itself may not be unhealthy, but could indicate problems with overall sleep quality, according to Michael A. Grandner, a sleep researcher and co-author of recent American Heart Association guidelines on sleep who was not involved with this study.
"This may be because, 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," Grandner said in a press release.
Habitual nappers were more likely to report insomnia and consider themselves "evening people" than non-nappers, the study found. They were also more likely to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, and have lower education and income levels than people who napped less frequently or not at all.
One limitation of the study is that researchers didn't have information on how long the naps lasted, so it's not clear if total time napping may be a factor. Participants also self-reported their naps, so researchers didn't have objective data on the frequency or quality of the naps.
Whether you nap or not, getting enough sleep at night is an important factor in heart health, according to American Heart Association guidelines updated in June.
In contrast, sleeping well can keep your immune system healthy, boost mental health and focus, and improve your fitness. Getting enough sleep can even help you lose weight, a recent study found.
For better sleep, try exercising regularly, spending time in the sun during the day, and avoiding caffeine, a sleep scientist previously told Insider.
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