Regular naps for sleep-deprived people can lead to serious health issues, study says

MADISON, Wis. — Afternoon naps can be great for you, but not if you’re trying to make up for poor nighttime sleeping.

A new study says in fact, afternoon napping can lead to serious health issues.

The study, published Monday in the American Heart Association’s journal Hypertension, showed participants who regularly napped during the day were 12% more likely to develop high blood pressure over time and were 24% more likely to have a stroke compared to people who never napped.

“It kind of validates that a little bit more than just telling people like, ‘Oh, it’s just not healthy for you, you should get tested, you should talk to your doctor if you’re napping a lot.’ But this is saying, ‘Hey, you know, you have a heightened risk of having a heart attack or stroke and this is what the researched showed and this is the increased risk,’ so that’s a real, tangible thing,” said Dr. Roopa Shah, a family physician and health and wellness coach with SSM Health.

Shah said short naps are no problem and can be rejuvenating, but it’s the chronic sleep-deprived naps she’s trying to warn about.

For those who feel exhausted and don’t sleep well, Shah recommends focusing on “sleep hygiene”: making sure they have a comfortable sleeping environment, limiting screen time before bed, avoiding alcohol and maintaining a consistent schedule.

“After they’ve done a lot of those sleep hygiene things and still are having issues, then definitely talk to your doctor because lots of people could have sleep apnea without having excessive snoring and never even know that really they are having apnic episodes,” she said.