Occasional daytime napping may be linked to a healthy heart

Henrietta Strickland
September 11, 2019

Napping once or twice a week was linked with a 48 percent reduced risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke, even when other factors were taken into account, the researchers report in the online BMJ journal Heart.

But they add; "While the exact physiological pathways linking daytime napping to [cardiovascular disease] risk is not clear, [this research] contributes to the ongoing debate on the health implications of napping, and suggests that it might not only be the duration, but also the frequency that matters".

The findings left experts scratching their heads.

Analysing the results from 3,462 randomly selected residents aged 35-75 who live in Lausanne in western Switzerland, the researchers found that occasional napping, once to twice weekly, was associated with an nearly halving in attack/stroke/heart failure risk (48%) compared with those who didn't nap at all. As the American Heart Association pointed out: "People under stress may overeat, start smoking or smoke more than they otherwise would".

While some studies have been done on the impact of napping on heart health, many published studies fail to consider napping frequency or duration, the researchers said.

About three in five said they don't nap.

The group reported how often they took naps and researchers tracked them for an average of five years.

Occasional daytime napping may be linked to a healthy heart
Occasional daytime napping may be linked to a healthy heart

Frequent nappers (3-7 naps a week) tended to be older, male and smokers.

Taking a nap during daytime cannot only refresh you but also lower the risk of heart attack or stroke if taken once or twice in a week, found a new study.

"Many of us might aim to grab an extra 40 winks here and there but more evidence is needed before we can say that regular napping can help to reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke".

In a linked editorial, Drs Yue Leng and Kristine Yaffe, of the University of California at San Francisco, USA, note that research into napping is problematic due to there being no gold standard for defining and measuring naps, making it "premature to conclude on the appropriateness of napping for maintaining optimal heart health". "Is that how you're catching up with your sleep?"

"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 - to prove that would require proper trials", Sattar said in a statement. And no associations with cardiovascular disease "events" were found for nap length (from 5 minutes to 1 hour plus).

Though she said the results should first be confirmed by other studies, Hausler added: "We can say that an occasional nap can potentially decrease cardiovascular disease risk for healthy adults".

And while nobody is promising that a couple of naps a week will drastically reduce your risk of heart disease, this latest study is an interesting addition to the field.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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