Do you have the habit of taking long siestas? Maybe it is time to cut down, as recent research has found that taking long midday naps can increase the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, and metabolic syndrome.
The word siesta means the sixth hour, which indicates the period during the day when people in many countries such as Spain and other Mediterranean countries take a break from work to get a midday nap.
Here are some known benefits of taking a siesta:
- Reduce sleep debt: Health experts recommend seven to nine hours of sleep. However, in many cases, people may miss out on sleep, which causes sleep debt. Taking midday naps helps fight fatigue and sleepiness caused by lack of sleep.
- Improves memory: Taking naps helps to improve cognitive performance and boost memory.
- Helps in handling stress: Studies have shown that naps can improve the brain’s ability to consolidate memories and regulate emotions which can help in better handling stress.
- Improves alertness: Proper rest helps to improve alertness, reaction time, and efficiency in people
However, researchers say the benefits of midday naps depend on the duration of the nap. Naps lasting longer than 30 minutes can cause sleep inertia, a feeling of grogginess, and delayed response time.
The new study evaluated more than 3,000 adults from a Mediterranean population to understand how the duration of siestas affects overall health.
“A previous study that we conducted in a large study population in the UK found that siestas were associated with an increased risk of obesity. We wanted to determine whether this would hold true in a country where siestas are more culturally embedded, in this case, Spain, as well as how the length of time for siestas is related to metabolic health,” Marta Garaulet, a senior author of the study said, News Medical reported.
Researchers found that those who took midday naps for 30 minutes or longer were more likely to have a higher body mass index, higher blood pressure, and metabolic syndrome-a range of conditions that occur together, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
The study also found that people who take short siestas or “power naps,” did not have an increased risk for obesity and metabolic alterations, Medical Dialogues reported.
“Not all siestas are the same. The length of time, the position of sleep, and other specific factors can affect the health outcomes of a nap,” Garaulet added.
“This study shows the importance of considering siesta length and raises the question of whether short naps may offer unique benefits. Many institutions are realizing the benefits of short naps, mostly for work productivity, but also increasingly for general health. If future studies further substantiate the advantages of shorter siestas, I think that that could be the driving force behind the uncovering of optimal nap durations, and a cultural shift in the recognition of the long-term health effects and productivity increases that can amount from this lifestyle behavior,” co-author Frank Scheer said.
Published by Medicaldaily.com