Occasional Napping May Be Good for Heart Health

There’s excellent news for folks who nap once or twice a week: you may be helping your heart!

Some people swear by naps. Whether you don’t sleep well at night or if you find a little shuteye helps your afternoon, many people see a benefit. But, in addition to clearing your mind, naps have been associated with better heart health.

A study looked at 3,462 people ages 35-75 for over five years to study the link between napping and heart disease. They looked at both frequency and duration. The researchers found that people who napped once or twice a week for five minutes to an hour were 48% less likely to have a stroke, heart attack or heart failure than folks who didn’t nap. This research was observational, so the scientists aren’t sure if it was cause and effect or just a correlation between the groups. But, if there is a possibility that occasional napping can help heart health, we’ll take the opportunity to get some afternoon shuteye.

Unfortunately, daily nappers may be out of luck. “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 researchers wrote in their report. 

This could be because people who nap daily may be ill, and so, lumping all the daily nappers into one group — instead of dividing them by health — may skew the results. However, the researchers did take important factors into account, like age, blood pressure, cholesterol and nighttime sleep duration.

Older studies have claimed that naps are beneficial for your heart health, but those didn’t look at napping frequency or were less focused. This study, published in Heart, was more comprehensive. Additionally, other studies have shown that longer naps actually increase cardiovascular risk, but, the scientists performing this research did not connect longer naps to a higher risk of a cardiac event.
 
While the exact physiological pathways linking daytime napping to [cardiovascular disease] risk is not clear, [the study] contributes to the ongoing debate on the health implications of napping,” wrote the researchers.

So, if you’re someone who occasionally naps, you may be helping your heart. And the rest of us may soon be following your lead!
September 20, 2019
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