You didn’t get enough sleep last night and your warm bed is calling you for a brief siesta. Cat napping may seem like a way to catch up on lost sleep, but did you know that taking daytime naps could increase your risk of developing type two diabetes?
Researchers at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom looked at the daytime napping habits of over 16,000 people. They found that those who took a daytime nap at least once a week had a twenty-six percent higher risk of developing type two diabetes – a disease that can lead to long-term health complications.
Why does cat napping increase the risk of diabetes? When a person is napping it means they’re burning fewer calories which can alter insulin sensitivity while increasing the risk of weight gain. Plus, cat napping during the day can alter sleep patterns at night which creates hormone imbalances that alters the way the body uses insulin. None of these bode well in terms of type two diabetes risk.
Fortunately for people who love their naps, the news isn’t bad when it comes to cat napping. A 2007 study showed that people who take regular daytime naps are almost forty percent less likely to develop heart disease. Researchers believe that naps lower levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, norepinephrine, and adrenalin which changes the way the body handles glucose. A daytime nap is also a good stress reliever.
With conflicting information about whether it’s healthy to take a daytime nap, should you or shouldn’t you? If you’re very sleep deprived and unable to focus on the task at hand, a short nap may be of benefit – although for some people cat napping during the day reduces their ability to sleep at night. The key is to make the nap short – preferably thirty minutes or less.
If you’re not sleep deprived, but just sleepy from boredom or lack of activity, try taking a twenty minute brisk walk and skip the nap entirely. A fast walk will wake you up and boost your energy level while lowering the risk of both heart disease and type two diabetes. Chances are you’ll return from your jaunt refreshed and reinvigorated.
The bottom line? An occasional nap when you’re really tired is probably not a health risk in terms of type two diabetes; but napping on a daily basis could be more of a problem. The best approach is to get a good night’s sleep and use those moments of temporary fatigue to exercise instead of sleep. Try it and see if it doesn’t reinvigorate you.