By Kennedy Shelley
As a kid I hated nap time, but as I crept toward middle age, I find they are well deserved and the result is that naps actually make me more productive.
Now there is new evidence that an afternoon nap twice a week actually helps keep your heart in better shape.
This isn’t just some opinion, this is from the British Medical Journal, recognized as one of the top medical sources in the world.
Napping twice a week is good medicine, resulting in a 48% drop in stroke and heart attacks in the study participants.
The study looked at 3462 Swiss nappers with no history of cardiovascular disease and followed them for over five years.
Those who napped once or twice a week had the lowest incidents of cardiovascular events (i.e. heart attacks).
They adjusted for people with things that put you at higher risk of heart problems such as sleep apnea and high blood pressure.
This doesn’t mean that the science is settled. There is some evidence that you can nap too much.
People who nap all the time do have a higher risk of a heart attack, but this is one of those “Which came first, the chicken or the egg” dilemmas.
No one has looked at the question “Do people with heart disease tend to nap more often?”
And that makes sense because a diseased heart is not as efficient and is going to cause people to get more tired.
By screening out those with known heart disease, the researchers were able to see if there were positive benefits for otherwise healthy people.
Nadine Häusler, Ph.D., from the department of internal medicine at Lausanne University Hospital, in Switzerland, was the first author on the study.
She noted that previous studies on napping showed some had fewer heart attacks and some had more.
She hoped that this study would help settle the controversy.
The research team had access to the vast medical database of the Swiss health care system.
Participants were between 35-75 and didn’t have a history of cardiovascular disease.
They found out the number of naps taken each week, and how long the nap took.
More than half didn’t take a nap during the week, 20% reported two naps, 12% 3-5 and 12% said 6-7.
They found that the more naps you took meant you were more likely to be older, sedentary and overweight.
Those who napped 1-2 a week had 48% fewer cardiovascular events.
That’s a significant reduction in the world’s largest killer and the top cause of permanent disability.
The study was not without critics.
One scientist noted that there is “no standard definition of nap.”
And while no one can say why this seems to help people and reduce the risk of heart attack, it is really tough to argue with the results.
There doesn’t seem to be a downside of 1-2 naps a week. People who nap protect their hearts.
And other studies have shown that they often make people more productive when the nap is between 20-30 minutes in the afternoon.
So, quit feeling guilty about one or two naps a week. You are probably doing your heart some good.