Daytime napping might increase your lifespan

Frequent nappers who had their 40 winks three to seven times 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

Research to be published today, and carried out by a team from the Department of Medicine at the Hospital of Lausanne in Switzerland, says numerous studies failed to consider napping frequency, focused purely on cardiovascular disease deaths, or compared regular nappers with those not opting for a mini-siesta.

For the study, participants were registered between 2009 and 2012 and their health was monitored for an average of five years.

Researchers say they set out to assess the "relationship of napping frequency and average nap duration with fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular events".

The research has been looking at the factors behind the development of cardiovascular disease.

The number of naps taken the previous week varied from none at all (58 percent) to six to seven (11 percent).

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 did not nap during the day.

Occasional napping, once to twice weekly, was associated with an nearly halving in risk of heart attack, failure or stroke compared with those who did not nap at all.

New research suggests that taking a nap once or twice a week could be good for the heart.

The study findings found a strong association between once or twice weekly daytime nap and halving in attack/stroke/heart failure risk (48%). This association held true even after controlling for factors such as age, nighttime sleep duration, daytime sleepiness, depression, and regularity of sleep, as well as other cardiovascular disease risks, such as high blood pressure/cholesterol.

And while there was originally a 67 percent increased risk of a cardiovascular disease event in the frequent napper contingent, this pretty much disappeared to nil when other factors (such as age, educational status, BMI, and various health conditions) were taken into consideration.

According to Naveed Sattar, a Metabolic Medicine professor at the University of Glasgow, biweekly napping could aid heart health but the same benefit might likely not apply to people who nap more frequently.

No association was found between CVD events and taking three or more naps per week, or nap length, which ranged from five minutes to one hour and more.

She said it was an "observational study so doesn't give us any information about why this frequency of napping might be beneficial and the information on nap and sleep patterns also relied on personal recall rather than physiological measurements".

Doctors Yue Leng and Kristine Yaffe of the University of California at San Francisco pointed out in a linked editorial to the study that research in this area is hard because there isn't a reliable system on how naps are defined and measured - including whether they're planned or unplanned and taken occasionally when needed or habitually as a cultural practice.

Though she said the results should first be confirmed by other studies, Hausler added: "We can say that an occasional nap can potentially decrease cardiovascular disease risk for healthy adults". "While there remain more questions than answers, it is time to start unveiling the power of naps for a supercharged heart", they conclude.



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