NEWS

Is Too Much Napping Bad For Your Health?

A young Black woman taking a nap on a gray couch.

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Key Takeaways

  • A recent study found that frequent daytime napping is associated with an increased risk of developing high blood pressure and a higher risk of having a stroke. 
  • Experts say that napping is not necessarily harmful, rather it could be a sign that someone is having trouble with sleep at night or that they have a sleep disorder or health condition.
  • If you can't stay awake or find yourself falling asleep during activities that require your attention, it's important to talk to your healthcare provider.

According to new research, people who nap on a regular basis might be at an increased risk of developing high blood pressure and having a stroke.

A peer-reviewed study published in Hypertension found that people who nap more during the day have a 12% higher risk of developing high blood pressure and a 24% higher risk of having an ischemic stroke compared to people who do not nap at all.

In a news release from the American Heart Association, E Wang, MD, PhD, a professor and chair of the Department of Anesthesiology at Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, and a corresponding author of the study said that the findings "are especially interesting since millions of people might enjoy a regular or even daily nap."

Nap Stats in 360,000 Adults

For the study, Wang and colleagues analyzed data from nearly 360,000 people between the ages of 40 to 69 who lived in the United Kingdom between 2006 and 2010.

At the start of the study, none of the participants had hypertension and had not had a stroke. The participants all provided blood, urine, and saliva samples for the researchers.

The researchers categorized participants into different groups based on how often they said that they took naps: “never/rarely,” “sometimes,” or “usually.”

When participants increased their napping (for example, going from being in the "never" group to the "sometimes" group or the "sometimes" group to the "usually " group), their risk for high blood pressure increased by 40%.

Is Napping Bad for You?

While the study's findings suggest a link between frequent napping and increased risk of high blood pressure and stroke, that doesn't mean naps themselves are bad. Rather, napping can be a sign of other sleep or health problems.

Michael Grandner, PhD, MTR, Director of the Sleep and Health Research Program and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Arizona, who was not a part of the study, told Verywell that people who are napping often may have a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, but that this "doesn’t mean that the naps themselves are harmful."

Instead, Grandner said that the "presence of napping may be an indicator that something is not optimal with health."

Michael Grandner, PhD, MTR

I would suspect that the issue isn’t with the naps themselves and more with the fact that if people are unable to stay awake during the day, it means there may be a problem with sleep at night.

— Michael Grandner, PhD, MTR

According to Grandner, most people who are taking more frequent naps during the day are doing so because their sleep at night is not optimal.

Not getting enough sleep or poor quality sleep at night leads to sleepiness during the day. Therefore, the naps themselves are not necessarily the problem—it's what's causing people to need to nap in the first place.

“I would suspect that the issue isn’t with the naps themselves and more with the fact that if people are unable to stay awake during the day, it means there may be a problem with sleep at night," said Grandner.

Napping May Be a Symptom of Other Health Conditions

Donald Lloyd-Jones, MD, MSc, a cardiologist and chair in the department of preventive medicine at Northwestern University, and the immediate past president of the American Heart Association, told Verywell that people who snooze frequently during the day could have other health conditions that are affecting their nighttime sleep.

“People who have obstructive sleep apnea—a serious sleeping disorder—have very poor quality sleep," said Lloyd-Jones. "When you have sleep apnea, it means that multiple times per night, your brain has to activate to open up your airway so you can breathe. Every time that happens, you get a surge of adrenaline and other stress hormones which drive up your blood pressure at the moment, but also during the day and overtime.”

Donald Lloyd-Jones, MD

It’s not that there’s a causal link between napping and these outcomes, it’s that napping is an indicator of what the real underlying problem is.

— Donald Lloyd-Jones, MD

While the researchers who did the recent study may have found an association between napping, high blood pressure, and stroke, Lloyd-Jones said that the finding could be explained by participants' poor sleeping habits at night or other health conditions. 

“It’s not that there’s a causal link between napping and these outcomes, it’s that napping is an indicator of what the real underlying problem is,” said Lloyd-Jones. “So, I would interpret these results with significant caution.” 

Those explanations also align with sleep guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which states that not getting enough sleep at night can lead to depression, stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Previous research has also reached similar conclusions: A study published in 2021 found a link between obstructive sleep apnea, cardiovascular disease, and the risk of hypertension.

How Much Napping Is Too Much?

Napping every day or several times a week is actually pretty common. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation reports that as many as a third of adults in the United States regularly take a midday nap.

“Many people around the world nap every day and, for them, it may be a beneficial thing,” said Grandner. “There is no line at which napping is too frequent.” 

However, Rebekah Delling, MFA, LMT, a Certified Sleep Coach and the owner of Hypnotic Massage Sleep Boutique, told Verywell that if those naps exceed 30 minutes or more several times a week, it might indicate underlying health issues and sleep deprivation.

According to Delling, if napping is reserved for the weekend, it can mean that a sleep deficit has built up during the week. Sleep deficits that are caused by a person's lifestyle patterns or work schedules do not necessarily indicate a disorder. 

“In those cases, an adjustment to the individual's sleep hygiene and bedtime routine may be enough to correct the issue,” said Delling.

How Much Sleep Do I Need at Night?

In general, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends getting at least seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night.

If you're not able to meet the AHA's nighttime sleep recommendation, Lloyd-Jones said that an occasional power nap can help you get through the day.

However, if napping is something that your body is compelling you to do every single day, it could mean your sleep quality is poor and you should talk to your provider about it.

You Don't Have to Give Up Naps

According to Grandner, naps themselves are not inherently harmful. For many people, napping can be beneficial and may even improve brain function and increase daytime functioning.

Other studies have suggested that napping can improve mental performance, boost memory, and help people manage big emotions like frustration better. 

You don't necessarily need to give up naps, but it's a good idea to understand your typical napping behavior and take note if it changes.

“If you find yourself napping because you can’t stay awake, look to see if you are getting enough good quality sleep at night,” said Grandner. "While a nap may help, these data suggest that they do not completely fix whatever the problem may be.” 

Overall, experts say that the new study does not mean that people should change their napping or sleeping behaviors—especially if they enjoy taking a nap to recharge. 

"We certainly can’t say from this study that napping is harmful,” said Lloyd-Jones. “If someone has had a bad night’s sleep and needs a power nap for 30 to 60 minutes, it is quite reasonable to nap from time to time.” 

While you may not have to lose sleep over your nap habit, just keep an eye on it. If frequent napping is the only way you may feel rested, you could be experiencing sleep deprivation or have a sleep disorder or other health condition. 

In those cases, naps could prompt you to talk to your provider about figuring out the problem and getting treated.

“If your body is compelling you to nap every day or you’re falling asleep in situations where it’s dangerous or unexpected, like behind the wheel, then that’s likely indicating an underlying problem that should be addressed,” said Lloyd-Jones.

What This Means For You

Naps are not inherently bad for you, but they can be a sign that you're not sleeping well or enough at night.

If you are napping frequently, can’t stay awake, or don’t get quality sleep at night, talk to your provider. You could have an underlying sleep disorder or health condition.

Overall, getting at least seven to nine hours of sleep a night, maintaining a consistent sleep/wake cycle, and avoiding screens, heavy foods/meals, and alcohol before bed can help you get restful sleep.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Cleveland Clinic. Sleep apnea.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How does sleep affect your heart health?

  4. Hoshide, S., Kario, K., Chia, Y. C., et al. Characteristics of hypertension in obstructive sleep apnea: An Asian experience. J Clin Hypertens. 2021;23(3):489-495. doi:10.1111/jch.14184

  5. The National Sleep Foundation. The benefits of napping.

  6. American Heart Association. Study of sleep in older adults suggests nixing naps, striving for 7-9 hours a night.

  7. Dutheil F, Danini B, Bagheri R, et al. Effects of a short daytime nap on the cognitive performance: A systematic review and meta-analysisInt J Environ Res Public Health. 2021;18(19):10212. doi:10.3390/ijerph181910212

  8. Cousins JN, Wong KF, Raghunath BL, Look C, Chee MWL. The long-term memory benefits of a daytime nap compared with crammingSleep. 2019;42(1). doi:10.1093/sleep/zsy207