Taking a short nap during the day can increase the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes in older adults, according to new research published in the journal Sleep Medicine.
Daytime naps have previously been linked to numerous health benefits, including improved brain power and reduced risk of heart attack and stroke.
But the findings from this latest study suggest that people who nod off half an hour or more are more likely to develop the early signs of type 2 diabetes, and have raised blood pressure and cholesterol levels than those who nap for less time or not at all.
Researchers at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China studied 27,009 men and women aged 45 and above. Of those, nearly 70% said they regularly took a siesta in the afternoon.
Each participant underwent physical exams, face-to-face interviews, and lab tests to monitor their blood sugar levels. In those who took afternoon naps longer than 30 minutes, the researchers found impaired fasting plasma glucose increased as naps increased in length.
Impaired fasting glucose, also known as prediabetes, is characterised by blood sugar levels that are higher than normal during periods of fasting, but not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes.
They also found that blood pressure and cholesterol readings were higher among those who took a post-lunch snooze compared to those who stayed awake through the day.
“Napping in the elderly can be beneficial for daytime functioning, as well as for mental health. But there is accumulating evidence showing it may also be a risk factor for morbidity and mortality,” the researchers said.
In addition to taking up time that could be spent exercising, the team explained that short naps may disrupt the body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm) and expose internal organs to higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

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