The Catnap and Diabetes

The Catnap and Diabetes: Health professionals have advocated the occasional power nap to help individuals gain clarity and focus. Naps have been touted as an excellent source of gaining improved efficiency. Businesses have even been encouraged to allow their staff the opportunity to power nap in an effort to boost productivity.

Proponents of the power nap will even cite the fact that Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison were all nappers – and they were brilliant men of science and art. Even famed British politician Winston Churchill once said, “You must sleep sometime between lunch and dinner… Don’t think you will be doing less work because you sleep during the day. That’s a foolish notion held by people who have no imaginations. You will be able to accomplish more. You get two days in one — well, at least one and a half, I’m sure.”

NASA researchers have shown that a nap of just under half an hour can boost ‘working memory’ by 34%.

Researchers have indicated naps that exceed half an hour can actually leave you lethargic and with a bad temperament.

And while many companies are implementing nap friendly policies there is new evidence to suggest there might be something else at work when you nap – something that may cause other long-term complications.

Diabetes UK reports, “Researchers at the University of Birmingham looked at the napping habits of 16,480 people and found that diabetes prevalence increased with napping frequency, and those who napped had a 26 per cent greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes compared to those who never napped.”

Researchers best guesstimate as to why this may be true are linked to the following three possibilities.

  • Daytime naps interfere with nighttime sleep patterns.
  • Shorter nighttime sleep sessions are already tied to an increased Type 2 diabetic risk.
  • Diabetes UK says, “Waking up from napping activates hormones and mechanisms in the body that stop insulin working effectively.”

Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Diabetes UK indicates, “We know from previous studies, which looked at the link between disturbed night sleep patterns and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, that interrupted sleep at night could increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.”

Napping in Perspective
While Diabetes UK research provides a new wrinkle in the issue of napping it is important to note that napping may be much less of an issue than, “…being overweight, being over the age of 40 or having a history of diabetes in the family.”

In other words, the primary message of most diabetic organizations remains the same – concentrate more on physical activity and managed care.

It might be interesting to know how this new information fits with power nap objectives. What we don’t know from this report is how long the individuals napped. Is there a difference between a nap of 30 minutes and one that lasts an hour or more?

Simply knowing that napping can have an effect on the potential for onset diabetes should engage researchers in further study so questions like the ones posed above can have answers.

As with other scientific discoveries this one conflicts with earlier findings. It may take time to develop appropriate research to provide the best indication of the usefulness of a nap versus the potential for diabetes development.