A new study published in Obesity suggests that long siestas or naps lasting more than 30 minutes could increase the risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome. The study involved 3,275 adults with an average age of 41, drawn from previous research called the ONTIME study. Longer naps were found to be more closely linked to higher BMI, fasting blood glucose levels, and various blood pressure readings. Participants who regularly took longer naps were also found to be more likely to smoke and eat, sleep, and participate in physical activity later in the day.
However, the study also recognizes the cultural significance of siestas and the need to understand how they translate to other cultural understandings of rest. Study author Dr. Marta Garaulet of the University of Murcia in Spain notes that even in the US, several people take power naps while working on a computer. The study has implications for how we understand the health benefits of naps, with Dr. Frank A. J. L. Scheer suggesting that there is a need to consider what type of duration of naps limits adverse effects but maximizes beneficial effects.
Dr. Carleara Weiss, a nurse researcher whose postdoctoral work focused on circadian rhythms, explains that changes in sleep affect hormone regulation, mood, concentration, and physical performance. Therefore, it makes sense that longer naps would affect how the biological clock works and then hormonal regulation and metabolism as well. The study highlights the importance of understanding the impact of sleep on overall health and the need to balance cultural practices with scientific evidence.