A new study shows that frequent naps are linked to high blood pressure and stroke

  • A new study shows how poor sleep can increase the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.
  • Compared to people who reported never sleeping, those who usually slept were 12% more likely to have high blood pressure and 24% more likely to have a stroke.
  • “This is because while napping itself isn’t harmful, many sleepers may have a poor night’s sleep.”

An afternoon nap may seem harmless, but new research suggests that a regular nap schedule may be damaging to your heart health.

A new study has been published HypertensionThe Journal of the American Heart Association found that people who sleep a lot have high blood pressure and are more likely to have a stroke. This is the first study to use longitudinal participant observational analysis and Mendelian randomization to examine whether frequent sleep deprivation is associated with high blood pressure and ischemic stroke.

The researchers looked at 358,451 participants without hypertension or stroke from the UK Biobank. They used these participants to analyze the association between sleep and reports of a first stroke or high blood pressure, with an average follow-up report of about 11 years. Participants were self-grouped according to sleep frequency: “never/rarely,” “sometimes,” or “often.”

In the study, compared to people who reported never sleeping, people who slept regularly were 12% more likely to have high blood pressure and 24% more likely to have a stroke. The researchers also found that participants younger than 60 had a 20% higher risk of high blood pressure than those who didn’t sleep normally. After age 60, regular sleepers had a 10% higher risk of high blood pressure compared to those who reported never sleeping.

Most regular eaters were male, had lower education and income levels, and reported higher rates of smoking, daily drinking, insomnia, snoring, and being a late night person than never or sometimes.

Three-quarters of the participants remained in the same sleep category (never, sometimes, usually) throughout the study. Mendelian randomization showed that if sleep frequency increased by one category (from never to sometimes or sometimes to usually), the risk of high blood pressure increased by 40%. High sleep frequency has also been associated with a genetic predisposition for high blood pressure risk.

These findings held true even after the researchers excluded people at higher risk of developing hypertension, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep disorders and night shift workers.

The study concluded that the analyzes proved that increasing the frequency of daytime sleep may be a risk factor responsible for essential hypertension. A causal relationship between ischemic stroke and sleep frequency was further supported by randomized and observational results.

In a statement released by the American Heart Association, study author Ye Wang, Ph.D., MD, professor and chairman of the Department of Anesthesiology at Central South University of Xiangya Hospital, said: “These results are particularly interesting because millions of people may enjoy regular, even daily, sleep.”

“The reason for this is that while napping itself is not harmful, it may be because many sleepers have a poor night’s sleep. “A poor night’s sleep is associated with poorer health and not enough sleep to compensate,” said Michael A. Granner, Ph.D., MTR, is a sleep expert and author of the American Heart Association’s new Life’s Essentials. 8 Cardiovascular Health Score, which in June 2022 adds sleep duration and is an 8th metric to optimally measure heart and brain health. “This study mirrors other findings that generally show that getting more sleep is associated with an increased risk of heart health and other problems.” Grander is director of the Sleep Health Research Program and Behavioral Sleep Medicine Clinic and associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona in Tucson and was not involved in the study.

As with any study, there are some limitations to consider. For example, the researchers only collected the frequency of daytime naps, not their duration, so there’s no telling how sleep duration affects blood pressure or stroke risk. In addition, sleep frequency was self-reported without any objective measures, providing an immeasurable estimate. The study participants were mostly middle-aged and older adults of European descent, so the findings may not be generalizable. Finally, researchers have not yet discovered the biological mechanism behind the effect of daytime sleepiness on blood pressure regulation or stroke, so further research is needed to reach this conclusion.

So what can you take away from this new research?

Sleep is an important part of our heart health. If we don’t get quality sleep at night and sleep more during the day to make up for those lost Zs, our heart health still suffers. To avoid additional risk for hypertension and stroke, make sure you get all the quality sleep you need and keep naps to a minimum.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.