SLEEP is increasingly being recognised as the cornerstone for health.

However, a recent study revealed the majority of Brits are suffering from lack of sleep.

Napping for longer than 30 minutes can increase your risk of two killer conditions.


Napping for longer than 30 minutes can increase your risk of two killer conditions.Credit: Getty

The research, conducted by insurance company Direct Line found three quarters (71 per cent) of UK adults do not have the recommended seven to nine hours’ sleep a night.

One way of getting more sleep is to nap occasionally throughout the day.

But how long is a the optimum nap?

A new study has revealed that napping for longer than 30 minutes can increase your risk of two killer conditions.

US researchers reported that people dozing for half an hour or longer were more likely to develop heart disease and diabetes compared to people who took no naps.

However, those who had “power naps” – a midday sleep session of 30 minutes or less – were less likely to have elevated blood pressure.

“Not all siestas are the same,” Professor Marta Garaulet, senior study author and a visiting professor in the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said in a statement.

“The length of time, position of sleep, and other specific factors can affect the health outcomes of a nap," she added.

The team examined the health data and sleep patterns from 3,275 adults from Spain.

They divided the subjects into categories of no siestas, shorter than 30 minutes, and longer than 30 minutes.

Those people taking longer naps had a higher body mass index (BMI) and were more likely to have high blood pressure and diabetes than those who did not take siestas.

Compared with the no-siesta group, the long nap group had higher values of waist circumference, fasting glucose levels and blood pressure.

Longer naps were associated with later nightly sleeping and eating, increased energy intake at lunch, and cigarette smoking.

Professor Becca Krukowski, from the University of Virginia School of Medicine, said  it’s possible the longer naps are the result of the health problems, not the other way around.

“This is a cross-sectional study, thus the direction of these relationships cannot be determined from this study," she told Medical News Today.

"It is possible that people with obesity are sleeping more poorly in the night and thus have a greater need for naps," she added.

Steps to the perfect nap  

The best thing about naps is you can squeeze them in anywhere, any time.

Sleep expert Kiera Pritchard from has shared her three steps to ensure you get a worthy nap.

Ideally, you’ll find a dark and cool room, with no distractions, to sleep.

“However, if you’re not at home taking a nap in your bedroom, you may have to improvise,” she said.

“If you plan to nap at your office or in your car, an eye mask and earplugs can help you block out outside noise and light.”

Don’t forget to set your alarm for the exact amount of time you want to spend asleep, for example 20 minutes.

But bear in mind you may want to add on 5-10 minutes to allow for the period of time "falling asleep".

Kiera said: “If sleep is eluding you because you’re focused on things to do after your nap and other sources of stress, try relieving stress and relaxing with breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation.”

Try this relaxation method: 

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  • Once you’re lying down with your eyes closed, breathe slowly in and out. While breathing in, focus on directing your breathing down to your belly. Saying a mantra to yourself such as “Breathing in I am calm, breathing out I am coping,” while performing this breathing exercise may also help. 
  • After you’ve taken a few gentle breaths, start tensing groups of muscles as you breathe. This method requires you to hold a muscle’s tension as you breathe in, releasing it as you breathe out. Start with the muscles in the head and neck, then move your focus down your body. Tense and relax your muscles in your shoulders, arms, back, stomach, thighs, etc.

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