How excessive napping threatens your heart health

woman napping on couch

It’s hard to beat a quick nap if you’re looking to recharge your batteries. But research shows napping for too long, or too often, can hurt rather than help your health.

It’s recommended that adults sleep for between seven and nine hours per night. Not getting enough sleep can leave you feeling lethargic and affects your concentration, your mood and your general cognition.

Having the occasional nap during the day to catch up on missed sleep is fine, but if you find yourself napping most days, you may be damaging your cardiovascular system.

A new study, published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension, reveals napping on most days may increase your risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) and stroke.

Read: Older Aussies urged to screen for heart condition

The study looked at the health data of more than 350,000 adults from the UK Biobank database over a period of 11 years.

The researchers found that for people aged under 60, napping on most days resulted in a 20 per cent increased risk of developing hypertension.

For those over 60, the news was slightly better, but daily napping still resulted in a 10 per cent increase.

Read: Water can reduce your risk of heart failure

The research team noted that frequent nappers were also more likely to be smokers, daily drinkers or snorers.

The findings were backed by another American Heart Association study, which found similar results in a population of more than 12,000 Swedish adults with a mean age of 70.

Despite those findings, some health experts believe naps may be getting a bad rap. Senior cardiac nurse Joanne Whitmore told The Australian it’s not napping itself that’s the problem, but rather excessive napping that is indicating a deeper problem.

Read: Can we trust smart watches to monitor our hearts and health?

Disrupted and excessive sleep can be caused by a number of conditions, such as sleep apnoea and insomnia, that can also damage your heart.

“The important thing is to ask yourself why you need a nap,” she says.

“If it’s a one-off to catch up on a late night, that is fine, but if it’s a regular thing it may be linked to anything from stress to obstructive sleep apnoea, which often causes snoring and can raise your risk of heart disease.”

Whatever the link, addressing the root cause of napping should lead to better sleep at night. And better sleep at night can only be good for your heart health.

Do you love a regular nap? Do you keep it brief? Do you need to nap because you don’t sleep well at night? Share your experience in the comments section below.

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Written by Brad Lockyer

Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.

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