Why Is There a Connection Between Napping and Hypertension?


A new study published in the American Heart Association Journal indicated that people who often nap may experience a greater risk of developing high blood pressure and having a stroke.

A press release from the American Heart Association released the following research highlights/study findings:

  • Frequent or usual daytime napping in adults was associated with a 12% higher risk of developing high blood pressure and a 24% high risk of having a stroke compared to never napping.
  • This is the first study to use both observational analysis of participants over a long period of time and Mendelian randomization – a genetic risk validation to investigate whether frequent napping was associated with high blood pressure and ischemic stroke.
  • Researchers used information from UK Biobank, a large biomedical database and research resource containing anonymized genetic, lifestyle and health information from half a million UK participants. UK Biobank recruited more than 500,000 participants between the ages of 40 and 69 who lived in the United Kingdom between 2006 and 2010. They regularly provided blood, urine and saliva samples, as well as detailed information about their lifestyle.
  • Experts say napping, though not unhealthy, may be a sign of poor sleep quality.
  • A higher percentage of frequent nappers were men, had lower education and income levels, and reported cigarette smoking, daily drinking, insomnia, snoring and being an evening person compared to people who reported napping sometimes or never.
  • Participants younger than age 60 who usually napped had a 20% higher risk of developing high blood pressure compared to people the same age who never napped. After age 60, usual napping was associated with 10% higher risk of high blood pressure compared to those who reported never napping;
  • About three-fourths of participants remained in the same napping category throughout the study;
  • The Mendelian randomization result showed that if napping frequency increased by one category (from never to sometimes or sometimes to usually) high blood pressure risk increased 40%. Higher napping frequency was related to the genetic propensity for high blood pressure risk.

The release of the study has sparked concern, skepticism, and jokes on social media:

The study can be viewed in full here: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.122.19120

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