DALLAS, JULY 25, 2022 — Napping on a regular basis is associated with higher risks for high blood pressure and stroke, according to new research published today in Hypertension, an
They're Good for Your Heart
A study found that people who napped for 45 to 60 minutes had lower blood pressure after going through mental stress.
The study found: 4.6% (93/2014) of people who did not nap had a heart attack or stroke. 1.8% (12/667) of people who had 1 to 2 naps had a heart attack or stroke. 5.4% (22/411) of people who had 3 to 5 naps had a heart attack or stroke.
Napping offers various benefits for healthy adults, including: Relaxation. Reduced fatigue. Increased alertness.
Investigators reported that people who frequently naps may have an increased risk of high blood pressure and ischemic stroke by 12% compared to people who do not nap. For some, there is nothing more refreshing than taking a nap.
In a recent study, researchers say napping two or three times a week might be good for your heart health. Experts say daily napping may be a sign of inadequate nighttime sleep or an underlying health problem. One expert says naps should be shorter than 30 minutes or longer than 90 minutes.
Although naps confer proven health benefits, napping regularly is associated with a higher risk of developing high blood pressure and stroke, according to a study published in Hypertension (PDF), and American Heart Association (AHA) journal.
A long nap, such as two hours per day, could indicate sleep deprivation or another sleep disorder, which may need a doctor's consultation.
In general, the best nap length for adults is about 20 minutes and no longer than 30 minutes. Sleeping for 20 minutes allows the napper to get a bit of light sleep to boost alertness without entering into deep sleep. Waking up from deep sleep can cause grogginess and actually worsen sleepiness.
While a 30- to 90-minute nap in older adults appears to have brain benefits, anything longer than an hour and a half may create problems with cognition, the ability to think and form memories, according to the study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
But during the next phase, deep sleep, your blood pressure falls and your heart rate slows to about 20% to 30% below your resting heart rate.
Heart attacks can happen when you're asleep or awake. They can happen when: You just went through something very physically or emotionally stressful.
Overall, naps of any length were linked with a 19% elevated risk of death. The connection was more pronounced in women, who had a 22% greater likelihood of death with napping compared to no napping, and older participants, whose risk rose by 17% with naps.
Similarly, sleeping on your left side, specifically, could help the flow of blood to your heart. When your heart pumps blood out to your body, it gets circulated and then flows back to your heart on the right side, Winter explains.
Some experts say the power nap should be even shorter — 20 minutes max. But all agree it shouldn't exceed 30 minutes. That's because the body enters a deep sleep around that time, and waking up from a deep sleep can lead to grogginess, according to the Sleep Foundation.
The connection between more frequent naps and heart health was not as strong. These short snoozes could be a valuable way to relieve stress and compensate for inadequate sleep at night, thereby protecting heart health, the paper says.
Limit your nap to 45 minutes or less, if you need to spring into action after dozing. Otherwise, you may drift into slow-wave sleep. Waking from this stage results in sleep inertia, that grogginess and disorientation that can last for half an hour or more. But you might want to take a long nap, at least 90 minutes.
Avoid 30-minute naps. There are no significant benefits to this length of nap. Half-hour naps cause "sleep inertia," a groggy state than can last for about 30 minutes after waking up. This is because the body is forced awake right after beginning, but not completing, the deeper stages of sleep.
“Napping for just 20 minutes may provide ample benefits, including improved alertness, mood, and vigilance,” says Aarthi Ram, MD, a sleep neurologist at Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital. It may even help you learn more efficiently.
Changes in sleep patterns, circadian rhythms, and lifestyles in older life make older adults more prone to taking naps during the daytime . Older adults also take naps to counter excessive sleepiness and fatigue from comorbidities or medications .
Hypersomnia means excessive sleepiness. There are many different causes, the most common in our society being inadequate sleep. This may be due to shiftwork, family demands (such as a new baby), study or social life. Other causes include sleep disorders, medication, and medical and psychiatric illnesses.
But naps can also have their downsides. Naps for adults should be no more than an hour and probably best kept to the 15- to 20-minute range. Anything beyond that – especially considering the time of day – could have consequences.
Usually, blood pressure starts to rise a few hours before a person wakes up. It continues to rise during the day, peaking in midday. Blood pressure typically drops in the late afternoon and evening. Blood pressure is usually lower at night while sleeping.
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. Experts say napping, though not unhealthy, may be a sign of poor sleep quality.
The time of day is also important for napping. Most sleep experts recommend napping no later than 2 pm. As discussed above, napping prior to the mid-afternoon results in a combination of light and REM sleep, whereas napping after 2 pm results in more slow-wave sleep.