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Regular nappers 'are more likely to suffer a stroke'

Needing a nap every afternoon may be a sign that you’re at risk for stroke, a study suggests.

Chinese researchers examined the daytime sleep habits of 60,000 middle-aged and older Britons and tracked their health for 15 years.

The results showed that those who “usually” took a nap were 12 percent more likely to develop high blood pressure, compared with those who “never” got 40 winks.

And they were almost a quarter more likely to have a stroke.

However, experts at Xiangya Hospital Central South University in Hunan doubt whether naps themselves are to blame.

Instead, always needing a “siesta” may simply be a sign of poor sleep quality, which has repeatedly been linked to high blood pressure over the years.

And those who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to suffer from ill 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 nap 'usually' are a tenth more likely to develop high blood pressure, compared to those who 'never' nap.

Chinese researchers, who examined the daytime sleeping habits of 60,000 middle-aged and older Britons, found that those who nap ‘usually’ are a tenth more likely to develop high blood pressure, compared to those who ‘never’ nap.


Most adults need between six and nine hours of sleep each night.

Going to bed and waking up at the same time every night programs the brain and internal body clock to get used to a set routine.

Few people manage to stick to strict bedtime patterns.

To make it easier to fall asleep, the NHS recommends relaxing, for example by taking a bath, reading and avoiding electronic devices.

The health department also recommends keeping the bedroom sleep-friendly by removing TVs and gadgets from the room and keeping it dark and tidy.

For people who have trouble sleeping, the NHS says keeping a sleep diary can uncover lifestyle habits or activities that contribute to sleepiness.

Source: NHS

About a third of adults in the UK and half of Americans have hypertension, which puts a strain on the blood vessels, heart and other organs.

It increases the risk of strokes and heart attacks.

Dozens of studies have shown that those who nap — even as little as 30 minutes a day — have higher blood pressure towards the evening.

However, the truth remains clouded as some research has shown the opposite.

The new study, published in the journal hypertensionintended to get to the bottom of the debate.

dr. E Wang and colleagues used information from the UK Biobank – a database of the health records of half a million Britons aged 40 to 69, who regularly provide detailed information about their lifestyle.

About 60,686 of those in the Biobank provided information about their sleeping habits four times between 2006 and 2019.

All participants were asked ‘do you take a nap during the day’ and given the options ‘rarely/never’, ‘sometimes’ or ‘usually’.

The researchers divided the volunteers into one of these three groups, depending on their response.

The way the question was posed meant that experts were unable to calculate the number of days per week and the length of a nap by volunteers.

Sleeping during the day was riskier for younger groups.

People under 60 who usually took a nap were one-fifth more likely to have high blood pressure than those who never napped.

The risk was half among the over 60s.

Men who ‘normally’ nap were more likely to be male, had lower qualifications and income, and were smokers, daily alcohol drinkers, and suffered from insomnia and snoring, compared with ‘never’ and ‘sometimes’ naps.

A separate analysis found that as napping increased by one category — from never to rarely, or rarely to most of the time — the risk of high blood pressure increased by 40 percent.

But dr. Michael Grandner, a sleep expert at the University of Arizona, explained that napping itself may not be the cause.

“While taking a nap in itself is not harmful, many people who nap may be doing so because they don’t sleep well at night,” he said.

“Poor night’s sleep is associated with poorer health, and naps aren’t enough to make up for that.”

dr. Grandner added, “This study is in line with other findings that generally show that taking more naps appears to be at increased risk for heart health and other problems.”

The study authors called for more research on the links between healthy sleep patterns, including daytime naps, and heart health.

The results excluded anyone who had suffered a stroke or high blood pressure at the start of the study.

The authors noted that they only looked at daytime sleep frequency, not naps duration, so it remains to be determined whether nap length affects blood pressure and stroke risk.

And the participants were middle-aged or older British, so the results may not apply to other age groups and ethnicities.

The NHS says you should get six to nine hours of sleep every night.

Blood pressure drops during sleep, so too low blood pressure means it stays higher for a longer period of time.