Occasional Daytime Napping Linked to a Healthy Heart, Says Study

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A new study now finds that a daytime nap taken once or twice a week could lower risk of heart attacks or strokes. According to the research conducted at the University Hospital of Lausanne, Switzerland, scientists studied the relationship between napping frequency and duration and the risk of fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular disease complications.

Study authors tracked 3,462 people between the ages of 35 and 75 for just over five years, before coming to the conclusion that those who indulged in occasional napping, around once or twice a week, for between five minutes to an hour, were 48 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack, stroke or heart failure than those who did not nap at all.

The study, which was published in the Heart, a British Cardiovascular Society journal, found that no such association emerged for greater frequency or longer duration of naps. Speaking about the same, study authors said that subjects who napped once or twice a week have lower risk for incident CVD (cardiovascular disease) events.

During the course of the study, researchers observed volunteers between 35 and 75 of age, who were recruited between 2003 and 2006 to the CoLaus study.

Participants' first check-up took place between 2009 and 2012, when information on their sleep and nap patterns in the previous week was collected, and their health was then subsequently monitored for an average of 5 years.

Researchers found that frequent nappers tended to be older, male, smokers, weigh more and slept longer than those who said that they did not nap during the day. Researchers observed that during the monitoring period, there were 155 fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular disease episodes. Occasional napping, once to twice weekly, was associated with an almost halving in attack/stroke/heart failure risk (48%) compared with those who didn't nap at all.

However, in an editorial linked to the study, Drs Yue Leng and Kristine Yaffe, of the University of California at San Francisco, USA, point out that research was affected by a gold standard for defining and measuring naps. According to them, it made the research premature to conclude on establishing a relationship napping and maintaining optimal heart health.

However, they added that while the exact physiological pathways linking daytime napping to cardiovascular disease risk is not clear, the research contributes to the implications of napping, and suggests that it might not only be the duration, but also the frequency of sleep that matters.