Whether it's due to a poor night's sleep or a busy morning, some adults are apt to take a load off and nap in the afternoons. This can be a great way to rejuvenate the body, but it may not be right for everyone.
Diabetes and naps
A group of researchers from Tongji Medical College took a look at how afternoon naps affected patients' risks for impaired fasting plasma glucose (IFG) and diabetes mellitus (DM). Specifically, a group of 27,009 elderly Chinese men and women took part in the study. The doctors conducted physical examinations, laboratory tests and interviews with each of the participants. Based on the information collected, the individuals were placed into one of four groups based on the length of their naps: less than 30 minutes, 30 to less than 60 minutes, 60 to less than 90 minutes and more than 90 minutes.1 From there, the investigators also collected information regarding IFG and DM in the patients.
It was found that 68.6 percent of those studied took regular afternoon naps. The longer a patient napped, the more likely he or she was to suffer from IFG or DM. Specifically, those who napped for periods longer than 60 minutes were at the greatest risk for IFG in particular. Those who took naps lasting more than 30 minutes had an increased risk of DM – although findings differed in the group that slept for 60 to 90 minutes in this area. Based on the collected data, researchers concluded that longer habitual napping is associated with greater risks of DM and high blood glucose levels in older individuals.
"Taking a so-called power nap may be useful for certain individuals, but naps should not be too long," researcher Eliane Lucassen wrote, according to LiveScience.2
However, researchers are currently unsure as to why extended periods of napping lead to these results. It may be due to the fact that longer naps make it difficult for an individual to sleep through the night. This has been seen to increase the risk for diabetes based on previous research. So, those who have other potential triggers of DM and IFG may want to avoid catching up on sleep in the afternoon hours.
1 Sleep Medicine, "Longer habitual afternoon napping is associated with a higher risk for impaired fasting plasma glucose and diabetes mellitus in older adults: results from the Dongfeng-Tongji cohort of retired workers" July 8, 2013
2 LiveScience, "Long naps linked to diabetes" October 23, 2013