Sweet dreams, healthy heart: Taking afternoon naps twice a week linked to healthier heart..
"Taking afternoon naps linked to healthy heart," reports The Times. A study carried out in Switzerland found that people who had 1 or 2 afternoon naps a week were less likely to have a heart attack or stroke, compared with people who did not nap. However, having more than 2 naps a week was not linked to any benefit.
Whether napping during the daytime is healthy or unhealthy is unclear. Some previous studies found a reduced risk of heart and circulation problems, while others found a higher risk. This study of 3,462 Swiss adults aimed to see whether the number of naps a week, and the length of time spent napping, could explain the conflicting results.
While researchers found no link between length of naps and heart or circulation problems, they found that 1 or 2 naps might reduce risks, but having more than 1 or 2 naps did not reduce risk.
Sleeping in the daytime on most days could be a sign of a health problem, such as sleep apnoea, which disrupts night-time sleep. If you're very sleepy during the daytime and need to nap most days, see your GP.
For most people, following healthy living advice – such as keeping active, not smoking, eating a healthy diet and not drinking to excess – is likely to give the best chance of avoiding heart attacks or strokes.
The study might sound like good news for people who like the occasional snooze after lunch. But factors that affect a person's risk of heart attack or stroke are complicated. This study does not provide enough evidence to say that people should start taking an afternoon nap to avoid having heart attacks or strokes.
There are limitations to the study. The main finding that 1 to 2 naps a week reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke is based on just 12 people. It also relies on people accurately reporting how often they nap, and for how long, as well as how long they sleep at night and a range of lifestyle factors.
Because it's an observational study, we cannot rule out that factors other than napping affected people's chances of having a heart attack or stroke. The researchers tried to account for some of these factors, including age, sex, smoking status and BMI. But there may also be other factors that were not measured, which contribute to the link.