Once or twice weekly daytime nap may lower heart attack/stroke risk

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In a new study from the University Hospital of Lausanne, researchers found that a daytime nap taken once or twice a week may lower the risk of having a heart attack/stroke.

But no such link found for either greater frequency or duration of naps.

The impact of napping on heart health has been hotly contested.

Many of the published studies on the topic have failed to consider napping frequency, or focused purely on cardiovascular disease deaths, or compared regular nappers with those not opting for a mini siesta.

In the study, the team examined the association between napping frequency and average nap duration and the risk of fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular disease ‘events,’ such as heart attack, stroke, or heart failure, among 3462 people in Switzerland.

Each participant was aged between 35 and 75, when recruited between 2003 and 2006.

Participants’ first check-up took place between 2009 and 2012, when information on their sleep and nap patterns in the previous week was collected, and their health was then monitored for an average of 5 years.

The team found frequent nappers (3-7 naps a week) tended to be older, male, smokers, weigh more, and to sleep for longer at night than those who said they didn’t nap during the day.

And they reported more daytime sleepiness and more severe obstructive sleep apnea — a condition in which the walls of the throat relax and narrow during sleep, interrupting normal breathing.

The team found occasional napping, once to twice weekly, was linked to an almost halving in attack/stroke/heart failure risk (48%) compared with those who didn’t nap at all.

And it didn’t change after factoring in excessive daytime sleepiness, depression, and regularly sleeping for at least 6 hours a night. Only older age (65+) and severe sleep apnea affected it.

And no associations with cardiovascular disease ‘events’ were found for nap length (from 5 minutes to 1 hour plus).

The team says nap frequency may help to explain the differing conclusions reached by researchers about the impact of napping on heart health.

If you care about heart health, please read studies about how to chomp away plaques that cause heart attacks and findings of this common drug may increase risk of heart disease.

For more information about heart disease prevention and treatment, please see recent studies about this sleep problem puts a strain on the heart and results showing that these foods may worsen heart failure.

The study is published in Heart. One author of the study is Nadine Häusler.

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