Taking a nap once or twice a week 'may cut the risk of heart attack'

Rest your weary head and stop resisting that mid-afternoon snooze, as new research suggests taking that nap could be beneficial to your health.

Taking a nap once or twice a week may cut the risk of heart attack and stroke, suggests a study.

It also feels great to curl up on the sofa under a blanket. Just saying.

Researchers studied data for 3,462 people in Lausanne, Switzerland, who were aged between 35 and 75 at the start of the study. They tracked them for an average of five years, looking at their sleeping patterns alongside their general health.

Of the people studied, 58% did not nap, 19% had taken one to two naps during the previous week, and 12% had taken three to five naps that week. Some 11% took six to seven naps per week.

Over the course of five years, there were 155 ‘cardiovascular events’ – meaning an incident such as a heart attack or a stroke – among the group.

The researchers found that those who napped once or twice a week were 48% less likely to experience these issues, even when other factors were taken into account.

Yes, it could be that those who were able to nap also had lower stress levels or better overall health, and more research is definitely needed, but the experts behind this study say the results provide some convincing evidence to catch a quick snooze.

Previous research suggests that napping is ‘as good as pills’ for reducing blood pressure, too.

Vanessa Smith, senior cardiac nurse for the British Heart Foundation, 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.’

In short: Yes, you do need to look after your health and a quick nap likely won’t outweigh a poor diet and no exercise.

But if you’re feeling a little weary, you go ahead and have a siesta now and then.

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