A new study suggests that occasional napping might be associated with a reduced risk of strokes and heart attacks.
The study of the connection between the quantity of one’s naps and the risk of cardiovascular disease problems was conducted by researchers from the University Hospital of Lausanne, Switzerland. Nearly 3,500 people between 35 and 75 years old were monitored for just over half a decade. The authors of the report discovered that the people who took quick (5 minutes to an hour) naps a couple times per week, were almost 50 percent less likely to experience a stroke, a heart attack, or heart failure than those who never took naps at all.
Duration and frequency of naps are important indentifiers
“Subjects who nap once or twice per week have a lower risk of incident CVD (cardiovascular disease) events, while no association was found for more frequent napping or napping duration,” the authors stated.
“Sleep patterns have previously been reported to be associated with a range of chronic medical conditions,” said cardiovascular expert at Oxford University’s George Institute for Global Health, Stephen MacMahon. “Some, but not all, these associations will reflect the effects of underlying chronic disease on sleep rather than the converse. It’s often difficult to untangle what is cause and effect, especially when some serious conditions, such as coronary heart disease, can be largely symptom-free for decades prior to a critical complication such as a heart attack”.
A Professor of Metabolic Medicine at the University of Glasgow, Naveed Sattar, said that although the findings were intriguing, it appears that the people who nap once or twice a week typically maintain healthier lifestyles, but those who napped everyday were more likely to be ill in some way.
“This means the former pattern of occasional napping is intentional and the latter of more regular napping likely represents sub-clinical illness linked to poorer lifestyle. This would then explain the differential risks,” explained Sattar. “I don’t think one can work out from this work whether ‘intentional’ napping on one or two days per week improves heart health so no one should take from this that napping is a way to lessen their heart attack risk”. He added, “For now, far better to aim for regular good night’s sleep and to follow usual lifestyle advice of good diets and decent activity levels.”