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Time for a quick power nap
New research shows that one or two naps a week could do wonders for your heart health – but no more than that!
A new study in Switzerland has found that napping twice a week for anywhere between five minutes and an hour could help to lower your risk of heart attacks and strokes.
The scientists looked at data on 3,262 people aged 35 to 75 who were followed up for an average of five years. They found that people who napped once or twice a week had around half (48%) the risk of heart attack, stroke or heart failure compared to people who didn’t nap at all. Naps were shown to be helpful even after accounting for other risk factors like smoking.
Interestingly, napping more than twice a week didn’t lower the risk of disease. The more people napped above this, the more likely they were to have serious heart problems. However, this effect disappeared when accounting for other factors, including smoking. So, the authors think that the increased risk is probably because they had other health problems that were making them feel tired, rather than that napping caused their ill health.
Napping has not been researched as much as night time sleep, which is well known to be essential for good health, but snoozing could have benefits by relieving stress.
The authors said: “The study of napping is a challenging but also a promising field with potentially significant public health implications.
"While there remain more questions than answers, it is time to start unveiling the power of naps for a supercharged heart.”
Meanwhile, mid-day siestas shown to lower blood pressure in Greece
Earlier this year, a small study of 200 people in Greece showed that people who enjoyed an afternoon siesta had blood pressure around 5mmHg lower than those who didn’t – that’s about the same amount seen with medicines or cutting down on salt or alcohol.
The authors believe that a daily snooze could reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Brilliantly, they noted "Napping can be easily adopted and typically doesn't cost anything."
Katharine Jenner, CEO of Blood Pressure UK says:
“We’re not convinced that current research really shows that siestas are the answer to preventing heart attacks and strokes, although getting enough sleep will certainly do wonders for your well-being. But we are happy to make the excuse for a quick snooze (if you are lucky enough to have the time!).”