Amidst the bustle of everyday, nothing can replace the relaxing effects of a nap. However, does the short-term relief come at a permanent price? Is there evidence to support a link between daytime napping and hypertension?
How does sleep affect our blood pressure?
According to a recent study, a meta-analysis of nine studies, encompassing 120, 000 participants, there is increased likelihood of developing hypertension in case of frequent naps, especially during the day. In contrast, night-shift workers, who require sleeping during the day, did not show a similar rise in risk due to night-time napping.
Dr Wisit Cheungpasitporn of Mayo Clinic explains that our blood pressure shows typical variations over the course of 24 hours. Normally, the blood pressure decreases by the end of the day, only to surge at waking. Thus, people who take naps will have additional number of surges in their blood pressure, which may lead to hypertension eventually.
Data from a 2014 publication based in China also show an increased risk of hypertension with long duration of daytime sleeping. Additionally, some studies have also heeded caution against napping due to possible links to adverse cardiac effects and effects on Diabetes.
Should I alter my sleep schedule?
While data indicate there may be a link, the results are still controversial. Sleep is often seen to improve symptoms of most diseases. Many argue that such naps are helpful in alleviating stress from the day, and can even be good for improving one’s mood, energy levels and focus.
Further, the analysis focused on naps lasting 30-60 minutes, and did not take into account the quality of sleep, whether sleep was soon after meals or not, as well as the exact timings of the naps. It is also important to make a distinction between habitual daytime sleeping, and naps due to constant fatigue and stress that could themselves lead to multiple health problems.