The nap, a dangerous habit for your health?

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Sleeping too much or not enough is not good for your health, this question seems to have achieved consensus for the scientific community. But what about naps that many of us allow ourselves during the afternoon to compensate after a restless night or to break up a busy day? There, opinions are more divergent. Two studies published on the same day but in two different publications analyzed the health effects of naps. Although different in their methodology, the latter arrive at the same conclusion: people who take a nap are more likely to have health problems, in particular cardiovascular.

The nap, the enemy of the heart?

The first study was done by theAmerican Heart Association and published in the journal it edits. It was based on Swedish research that has been collecting health data since the 1960s. By comparing a group of people with a similar profile, those who take a nap of a duration between 1 and 30 minutes have an increased risk of developing a cardiovascular problem. The risk is highest in people who sleep less than 7 hours a night and who take naps longer than 30 minutes during the day. Scientists have observed the same trend in people who get enough sleep at night (between 7 and 9 am), but this could not be confirmed statistically.

Indeed, another study had observed that naps were also harmful to health in people who sleep less than 6 hours a night. The real cause of the risk of cardiovascular disease then seems to be the lack of sleep at night — a deficit that naps, which don’t replace a full sleep cycle, don’t seem to make up for. The second study, published in Hypertensionreports an increased risk ofhypertension and D’stroke in middle-aged subjects who nap during the day.

Paul Leeson, professor of cardiology at the University of Oxford, is cautious about these results: But it could just be a coincidence. There could be other health issues to explain why a person sleeps more during the day and why they have an increased risk of heart disease “. Moreover, the biological mechanism that would explain this association between siesta and risk of cardiovascular disease is not known to date.

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