A new study published in the journal Heart says naps may actually be good for your heart. Researchers conducting the study found that napping twice a week reduced the risk of a heart attack or stroke by nearly half. The research adds support to the notion that napping is a healthy habit.
For the study, the researchers recruited about 3,500 Swiss adults ages 35 to 75. All were basically healthy without any evidence of heart disease, and none were overly sleep-deprived. They underwent a range of medical tests meant to assess their overall health and provided researchers with demographic and lifestyle information. They also provided information about their napping habits and nighttime sleep.
The researchers followed the participants for eight years. During that time, 155 of the participants experienced a heart problem. Those who napped once or twice a week had a 48 percent lower risk of fatal heart problems than those who didn’t nap. The connection between more frequent naps and heart health was not as strong.
The duration of napping appeared to have no impact on heart attack or stroke risk. For adults older than 65, the researchers did not see heart-health benefits associated with occasional napping. The trends held even after adjusting for excessive daytime sleepiness, nighttime sleep duration and demographic and lifestyle factors.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends most adults get at least seven hours of shuteye a night for a variety of health benefits. However, it is estimated that roughly one-third of Americans don’t get the recommended minimum amount of rest per night. Taking a nap could be a valuable way to compensate for inadequate sleep at night. While the study did not recommend an optimal amount of time for a nap, most experts say a 20-minute snooze is enough to reap benefits.