Health

Having an afternoon nap twice a week ‘lowers your risk of a heart attack’ | Daily Mail Online

Grabbing 40 winks in the afternoon halves your chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke, a study suggests.

Researchers found people who take a daytime nap once or twice a week are almost 50 per cent less at risk compared with those who never snooze during the day.

But napping any more than twice a week had no further benefits on heart health, the study found.  

Lack of sleep raises the risk of atherosclerosis, which is a build-up of plaque in the body’s arteries that causes them to narrow and harden.

Scientists say the sweet spot for sleep is eight hours per night. Napping can be a tool to help people get to that number if they missed it the night before. 

Grabbing a siesta halves your chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke, a study suggests

The research team from the University Hospital of Lausanne in Switzerland monitored 3,400 people aged 35 to 75 for an average of five years.   

They looked at the association between napping frequency and average nap duration, and the risk of a heart attack or stroke. 

During the five years there were 155 heart attacks or strokes. Napping once to twice weekly was associated with an almost halving the risk (48 per cent) compared with those who didn’t nap at all.

Study author Dr Nadine Hausler said the team accounted for potential factors which could influence the study.

WHAT IS INSOMNIA?

Insomnia means you regularly have problems sleeping. It usually gets better by changing your sleeping habits.

You have insomnia if you regularly: find it hard to go to sleep, wake up several times during the night, lie awake at night, wake up early and can’t go back to sleep, still feel tired after waking up

Everyone needs different amounts of sleep. On average, adults need 7 to 9 hours, while children need 9 to 13 hours.

You probably don’t get enough sleep if you’re constantly tired during the day.

The most common causes of insomnia are: stress, anxiety or depression, excessive noise, an uncomfortable bed or alcohol, caffeine or nicotine.

Insomnia usually gets better by changing your sleeping habits. For example, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, and only going to bed when you feel tired.

Source: NHS

Dr Hausler, of the University Hospital of Lausanne, said: ‘This association held true after taking account of potentially influential factors, such as age, and night-time sleep duration, as well as other cardiovascular disease risks, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol.

‘And it didn’t change after factoring in excessive daytime sleepiness, depression, and regularly sleeping for at least six hours a night.’

She said only people aged over 65 and severe sleep apnoea were still at high risk of a heart attack or stroke if they were regular nappers. 

Naveed Sattar, Professor of Metabolic Medicine at the University of Glasgow, said those who nap frequently during the week tend to be healthier overall.

He added: ‘Those who nap one to two times per week have healthier lifestyles or organised lives that allow them to have these naps, whereas those who nap nearly every day are likely to be more sick.

‘This means the former pattern of occasional napping is intentional and the latter of more regular napping likely represents sub-clinical illness linked to poorer lifestyle. This would then explain the differential risks.

‘I don’t think one can work out from this work whether ‘intentional’ napping on one or two days per week improves heart health so no one should take from this that napping is a way to lessen their heart attack risk – to prove that would require proper trials but I’m not sure how feasible these would be. 

‘For now, far better to aim for regular good night’s sleeps and to follow usual lifestyle advice of good diets and decent activity levels.’   

The findings are published in the British Medical Journal, Heart

Having an afternoon nap twice a week ‘lowers your risk of a heart attack’

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