Posted For: Willie Wonka
Don’t sleep on your poor health.
Those who nap more on average have a greater risk of developing high blood pressure and stroke, according to a new analysis published Monday in Hypertension, an American Heart Association journal.
Having hypertension puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke, which are leading causes of death in the US, according to the CDC.
Geriatric researchers at Central South University in Hunan, China, looked at the sleep habits and medical histories of some 360,000 people in the UK, courtesy of the UK Biobank patient survey database, and found that participants who took naps on most days saw a 24% increase in their likelihood of stroke, and were 12% more likely to be diagnosed with hypertension over time.
The nap factor was even more worrisome in those age 60 and under, as napping most days led to a 20% higher chance of developing high blood pressure.
Their findings were consistent even after accounting for patients with pre-existing high-risk factors for developing hypertension, such as Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, sleep disorders and working overnight shifts.
The study also highlights a correlation between regular napping and smoking cigarettes, daily alcohol consumption, snoring, insomnia and people who claim to be night owls.
As of last month, the AHA now considers sleep duration one of their eight markers for cardiovascular health, alongside diet, physical activity, nicotine exposure, weight, cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure.
“Sleep is related to every single one of the other seven elements — it’s closely tied to weight, blood pressure, glucose metabolism, what we choose to eat,” said AHA president Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, chair of the department of preventive health at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in a statement at the time.
Dr. Phyllis Zee, director of the Feinberg School of Medicine’s Center for Circadian and Sleep Medicine at Northwestern University, spoke to CNN on Monday about the new study.
“From a clinical standpoint, I think it highlights the importance for health care providers to routinely ask patients about napping and excessive daytime sleepiness and evaluate for other contributing conditions to potentially modify the risk for cardiovascular disease,” said Zee, who was not involved in the current study.
Researchers have noted that the UK Biobank survey, taken between 2006 and 2010, relied on self-reporting from patients over the course of just four separate nap questionnaires. Nap duration was also left unspecified.
A previous study suggests that the most energizing nap lasts no more than 30 minutes during the middle of the afternoon. More than that and the sleeper risks entering REM. Outside of midday, the nap may interrupt their nighttime sleeping patterns.