A study suggests that needing a nap every afternoon may be a sign that you’re at risk of stroke.
Chinese researchers examined the daytime sleeping habits of 60,000 middle-aged and elderly Britons and tracked their health over 15 years.
The results showed that those who ‘usually’ took a nap were 12 per cent more likely to have high blood pressure, compared to those who ‘never’ took 40 naps.
And they were almost a quarter more likely to suffer a stroke.
However, experts at Xiangya Hospital of Central South University in Hunan suspect that naps themselves are responsible.
Instead, always needing a ‘siesta’ may simply be a sign of poor sleep quality, which has been repeatedly linked to high blood pressure over the years.
And people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to have poor health, such as being overweight.
Chinese researchers, who examined the daytime sleeping habits of 60,000 middle-aged and older Britons, found that those who slept ‘normally’ were a tenth more likely to develop high blood pressure than those who did not. Those who ‘never’ sleep.
How much sleep should I get?
Most adults need between six and nine hours of sleep each night.
Going to bed and getting up at the same time each night programs the brain and internal body clock to get used to a fixed routine.
But few people manage to stick to strict bedtime patterns.
To sleep easier, the NHS advises to do less, such as bathing, reading and avoiding electronic devices.
The health service also recommends keeping the bedroom conducive to sleep by removing TVs and gadgets from the room and keeping it dark and clean.
For people who struggle to sleep, the NHS says keeping a sleep diary can uncover lifestyle habits or activities that contribute to sleep deprivation.
About a third of UK adults and half of Americans have high blood pressure, which puts pressure on the blood vessels, heart and other organs.
This increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Dozens of studies have found that people who sleep just 30 minutes a day have higher blood pressure in the evening.
However, the reality is cloudy, some research has found the opposite.
The new research, published in the journal High blood pressurewhich aims to get to the bottom of the debate.
Dr E Wang and colleagues used information from the UK Biobank – a database containing the health records of half a million Britons aged 40 to 69, who regularly provide detailed information about their lifestyles. provide
About 60,686 people in the biobank provided information about their sleep habits four times between 2006 and 2019.
All participants were asked ‘Do you nap during the day’ and were given the options of ‘rarely/never’, ‘sometimes’ or ‘usually’.
The researchers divided the volunteers into one of three groups based on their responses.
Because of the way the question was asked, the experts couldn’t calculate the number of days per week and how long the volunteers slept.
Sleeping during the day was more dangerous for younger groups.
People under the age of 60 who napped regularly were a fifth more likely to have high blood pressure than those who never napped.
The risk was halved in those over 60 years of age.
Compared to ‘never’ and ‘sometimes’ nappers, a higher proportion of ‘regular’ nappers were male, had lower qualifications and income and were smokers, daily drinkers and suffered from insomnia and snoring. .
A separate analysis found that as sleepiness increased by one category — from never to rarely, or rarely — the risk of developing high blood pressure increased by 40 percent.
But Dr. Michael Grandner, a sleep expert at the University of Arizona, explained that sleep itself may not be the cause.
‘Although napping itself is not harmful, many people who do nap may do so because of less sleep at night,’ he said.
‘A poor night’s sleep is linked to poor health, and naps are not enough.’
Dr Grandner added: ‘This study echoes other findings which generally show that more napping reflects an increased risk of heart health and other problems.’
The study authors called for more research on the links between healthy sleep patterns, including daytime sleepiness, and heart health.
Results excluded those who had a stroke or high blood pressure at the start of the study.
The authors note that they only looked at daytime nap frequency, not nap duration, so it remains to be determined whether nap length affects blood pressure and stroke risks.
And the participants were middle-aged or older Britons – so the results may not apply to other age and ethnic groups.
The NHS says you should get six to nine hours of sleep every night.
Blood pressure falls during sleep so being too low means it stays high for longer.