Naps could help or hinder your health depending on their length – new study

Daytime naps are beneficial to the body says Nick Littlehales

There’s no doubt that sleep is the foundation of good health, but studies often provide conflicting advice on whether naps offer the same benefits.

New research, published in the journal Obesity, highlights both the negative as well as the positive effects of midday snooze.

According to the researchers, the length of your nap seems to be a key deciding factor.

While long naps were linked to a higher risk of obesity, shorter ones were associated with a reduced risk of high blood pressure.

The Spanish research team sheds light on the connection between the duration naps and several metabolic markers, including obesity.

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Looking at more than 3,000 Spaniards from Murcia, the research team arrived at surprising findings.

Those who took long naps, capped at more than 30 minutes, had a two percent higher body mass index (BMI).

The body mass index is a measure that uses your height and weight to work out if your weight is healthy.

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These participants also had a 23 percent higher risk of obesity and a 40 percent higher risk of metabolic syndrome, which describes a group of medical conditions that increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

However, those who napped for shorter times, fewer than 30 minutes, had a 21 percent lower risk of high blood pressure.

Marta Garaulet, author of the study, said: “Long naps are associated with an increase in the body mass index of metabolic syndrome, triglycerides, glucose and blood pressure.

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“In contrast, when the nap is short, we see it associated with a decrease in the probability of having high blood pressure, so in a way, the nap becomes protective”.

The research team concluded that nap duration should be considered as “relevant in obesity,” but the results merely point to “associations” and don’t establish formal cause and effect.

While the study made “relevant” associations between people who take naps and their risk of obesity and high blood pressure, that does not necessarily mean that people are overweight because they are taking longer naps or that shorter naps lower high blood pressure.

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