In recent snooze news, a U.K. study says that frequent nappers are about 50 percent more likely to have type 2 diabetes than those who never doze. But should you really quit your catnaps?
In the study, researchers looked at nearly 20,000 men and women in China, where it’s common to nap regularly—even daily. (“Frequent” was defined as at least four times a week.) The research suggests that daytime shuteye may disrupt certain metabolic systems that can affect insulin resistance and lead to elevated blood glucose levels.
But even the researchers recommend treating the findings with caution. The work doesn’t show that naps cause diabetes—only an association between the two, says lead author G. Neil Thomas, Ph.D.
In fact, the connection could be the other way around: People with diabetes may be more likely to zonk during the day because of an increased risk of obstructive sleep apnea—where breathing stops and starts during sleep and and may leave you tired, says Sheri Colberg-Ochs, Ph.D., author of The Diabetes Breakthrough. (The disorder frequently causes insulin resistance and high blood sugar.)
So you can stick to napping when you’re sleepy. Most Americans only do it when they’re tired, like after a short night’s sleep or a hard workout, says Colberg-Ochs. (Not daily, as was measured in the study). And more pillow-time could actually lower your diabetes risk: “Sleep deprivation is dangerous because it leads to a rise in cortisol, which increases insulin resistance,” she adds. Try to keep naps 20 to 30 minutes—you’ll see the most benefits and least drag post-sleep.
And your best bet to prevent diabetes is outside the bedroom, anyway. Men who did cardio and weight training for at least 150 minutes per week cut their risk of the disease by 59 percent, according to a recent Harvard University study.
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