Napping regularly could dramatically reduce the risk of heart attack, study finds

10 September 2019, 15:00 | Updated: 10 September 2019, 15:07

Napping is said to be good for your health
Napping is said to be good for your health. Picture: Getty Images
Naomi Bartram

By Naomi Bartram

New research has shown that daytime naps once or twice a week may be linked to a healthy heart.

If you love a midday snooze, then we have some great news as it turns out napping could actually be good for your health.

While scientists previously found that sleeping regularly could help improve productivity at work, now new research has found it could also cut the risk of a heart attack by almost half.

A study carried out in Switzerland used data for 3,462 people living in Lausanne, who were aged 35 to 75.

The group were told to record how often they took naps for five years, with their sleeping patterns and general health being tracked by researchers.

Naps could improve your heart health, according to new research
Naps could improve your heart health, according to new research. Picture: PA Images

Of the people being studied, 58% didn't nap at all, about one in five (19%) had taken one to two naps during the previous week, and about one in 10 (12%) had taken three to five. 11% took six to seven naps per week.

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After five years, there were 155 cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke.

The results - published in the journal Heart - found that those who napped once or twice a week were 48% less likely to experience these health issues, even when other factors were taken into account.

But when it comes to snoozing up to six times a week, no other associations were found, which means there’s seemingly no benefit to more frequent sleeping compared to having no naps at all.

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Writing in the journal Heart, head researcher Dr Nadine Häusler said: “Subjects who nap once or twice per week have a lower risk of incident cardiovascular disease events, while no association was found for more frequent napping or napping duration.

“Nap frequency may help explain the discrepant findings regarding the association between napping and CVD events.”

Despite the results, senior cardiac nurse for the British Heart Foundation Vanessa Smith, has said more research is needed before we can prove napping has any lasting benefits.

She said: “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.

“However, there are many other lifestyle changes you can make which we know help to keep your heart and blood vessels healthy.

“Doing 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week and eating a healthy Mediterranean-based diet can reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

“We also know that treating high blood pressure and managing your cholesterol can reduce your risk of life-threatening heart and circulatory diseases.”