Only, perhaps, small children, pensioners and the lucky few can afford to take time in the middle of the day to take a nap. However, according to a new study, most adults are more likely to benefit from not having an afternoon nap, which can be harmful and even dangerous to health.
Some people believe that a short daytime nap is the key to good health and good health, but the authors of a new large-scale study strongly disagree with them, the results of which showed that the habit of sleeping during the day is associated with a high risk of developing hypertension and stroke.
“While daytime naps are not in themselves harmful, many people who like to take an afternoon nap may be doing so because of a poor night’s sleep,” clinical psychologist Michael Grandner explained in an accompanying article to the study. “Bad nighttime sleep, in turn, associated with declining health, and daytime sleep is not enough to compensate for this.
Grandner, who is director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Clinic at Towson University Banner Medical Center, noted that overall, sleep duration is one of eight vital indicators of optimal heart and brain health.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, daytime nappers were 12% more likely to develop hypertension and 24% more likely to have a stroke compared to those who never took a nap, and among participants younger than 60, the odds for hypertension increased by up to 20%. What’s more, the results of the study remained the same even when the researchers excluded participants at high risk for hypertension, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, sleep disturbances, and those who worked the night shift.
The large-scale study used data from 360,000 participants from the UK Biobank, a major biomedical database and research resource for which about half a million UK residents aged 40 to 69 regularly donated blood, urine and saliva samples from 2006 to 2010, and also responded to questions about the state of health and lifestyle, in particular about the presence or absence of the habit of sleeping during the day.
What is daytime sleep?
Scientists note that at that time information was collected only on the frequency of daytime sleep, but not on its duration. “They didn’t define exactly what daytime naps are. If you go to bed for an hour or two, for example, it’s not exactly an afternoon nap,” explained sleep expert Dr. Raj Dasgupta, assistant professor of clinical medicine at the Medical school at the University of Southern California.
According to him, “a refreshing nap of 15 to 20 minutes from 12:00 to 14:00 is the right choice for people who lack rest. “If you suffer from chronic insomnia, we do not recommend daytime sleep, because it will relieve you from having to sleep at night,” Dr. Dasgupta said.
It is noted that the majority of study participants, who were accustomed to regularly sleeping during the day, smoked, drank alcohol daily, snored, suffered from insomnia and reported nocturnal lifestyle. According to Dr. Dasgupta, many of these factors can affect the quality and quantity of sleep.
“Bad sleep leads to excessive daytime fatigue, which can cause excessive daytime sleepiness,” he explained. “I believe that daytime sleepiness in some people is a warning sign of a more serious sleep disorder.”
Finally, Dr. Dasgupta recalled that sleep disturbances are also associated with an increase in stress levels and hormones that regulate weight, which can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, that is, all risk factors for cardiovascular disease.