A study published in the journal ‘Hypertension‘, from the American Heart Association, reveals an alarming truth for nap-lovers. It turns out that adults who take frequent naps can have a 12% more likely to develop hypertension and 24% stroke (cerebrovascular accident). The study conducted over more than 15 years revealed these disturbing health findings.
The study was conducted by researchers in China who took the data from UK Biobank. This platform provided them with anonymous data on the genetics, lifestyle and other information of more than 500,000 people. However, the study used data from approximately 360,000 Britons aged 40-69. Discard those who had previously had blood pressure problems or a stroke. Participants provided regular urine, saliva and blood tests. Additionally, the researchers asked them about their nap habits. 4 times between 2006 and 2019. The metric they used had a scale of “never/rarely”, “sometimes”, and “usually”.
That doesn’t mean taking a nap is bad in itself. The problem is that most people who do this don’t sleep well. It is a myth to believe that taking naps will make us regain lost hours of sleep. In fact, sleeping the necessary hours is so important because it helps us have better cardiovascular health. And it is that sleeping badly does not only affect our heart; Shirley Cramer, Executive Director of the Royal Society of Public Health, told the BBC sleep little increases the risk of cancer, diabetes and depression.
Another interesting finding from this study is the profile of those who take the most naps: men with a level of education and a low income. These men also tend to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol daily, suffer from insomnia, snore and be more active in the evening. And a third finding is that if people increased the frequency of their naps by one category (from “never” to “sometimes”, for example), the risk of high blood pressure increased by 40%.
The The American Health Association has compiled a list things you can do to have optimal heart conditions:
- Have a balanced diet: lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes, cereals, low-fat dairy products. In addition to low sodium intake, red or processed meats and sugary drinks
- Physical activity: 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity
- Avoid exposure to nicotine in all forms (conventional, electronic or vaping cigarettes)
- Sleep at the right hours: 7-9 for adults
- Have a good body mass index: indices of 18.5 to 24.9 are the most associated with cardiovascular problems
- Keep cholesterol levels low: HDL is the exception because it is the “good cholesterol”.
- Monitor blood sugar
- Monitor blood pressure: levels below 120/80 mm Hg are optimal