To nap or not: Here's why napping may not be good for everyone, according to researchers

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Wednesday, January 17, 2024
Are naps good for you? Here's what researchers say
Are naps actually good for you? Napping does have health benefits, but naps may do more harm than good for some people. Here's what researchers found.

On a typical day, about one-third of adults manage to take a nap. And while there are a lot of good things that can come from napping, like feeling physically refreshed, new research reveals that for some people, napping may not be beneficial.

Stress, smoking, fast food -- these are all risk factors for high blood pressure. A recent study from China shows that taking a midday nap may also raise your blood pressure.

"We call it a silent killer because people don't pay much attention to it until you have, what we call, end organ damage, "said Dr. Siddharth Wayangankar, an interventional cardiologist.

Researchers looked at more than 350,000 people and found that those who napped were 12% more likely to develop high blood pressure and 24% more likely to have a stroke than those who didn't take naps.

The risk was even higher for people under 60 who napped, raising their high blood pressure risk by 20%.

Lisa Smith says she's has struggled with insomnia. Experts say for people like her, napping may not be beneficial.

That's because naps may eat away at your daily "sleep quota," making it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep at night.

But for most, naps are beneficial if done properly. Here are some tips to follow:

  • Try to keep naps between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Naps should last no more than 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Try napping on the couch instead of your bed, so you don't sleep too long.
  • This may be a surprising tip - try having a cup of coffee before you start your nap. Experts say that by the time you wake up, the caffeine will have kicked in to help you get back to work.

"Sleep is the VIP service everybody needs. It affects basically every area of our life," said sleep consultant Leandre Schoeman.

MORE: Napping regularly linked to high blood pressure risk, study shows

ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jen Ashton discusses a new study that links regular napping with high blood pressure and stroke.