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People Who Have Afternoon Naps Lower Their Heart Risks, Study Finds

We live in a society that puts an awful lot of labels on people. It seems like its everyone's favorite thing to do. Into computers? You're the geek. Love to work out? You are a health nut. Love to take naps? You are lazy. However, a new study reveals that those people who are in favor of regular afternoon naps just might be that smartest group of them all.

A study that was published in The British Medical Journal, Heart says that people who are regularly napping the the afternoon have an almost 50 percent less chance of suffering a heart attack versus those who don't. And that number is pretty staggering.

Here's the thing: a lack of sleep raises the risk of something called atherosclerosis, which is a build-up of plaque in the body's arteries. This then causes them to narrow and harden. Knowing that we live in an incredibly busy society where getting an uninterrupted eight hours of sleep isn't always going to happen each night, having a regular afternoon nap helps people catch up. Thus, combating the lack of sleep.

Tired mother trying to sleep with child awake playing and trying to wake her up. Morning time.
Credit: iStock

This specific study honed in on the the link between napping frequency, average nap duration, and the risk of someone suffering from a heart attack or stroke. This was done through research that was conducted at the University Hospital of Lausanne in Switzerland, monitoring 3,400 people aged between 35 and 75 for an average of five years.

The results were pretty eye opening, showing that there were 155 heart attacks or strokes that happened during the duration of the study. Looking even closer, they found that napping once to twice a week was linked with an almost halving of the risk (48 percent) compared with those who didn't nap at all.

Wow. Just wow.

Dr Nadine Hausler, of the University Hospital of Lausanne, and lead author of the study said that "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."

There were two groups of people though that they found regular napping to negatively impact, which was those over age 65 and those with sleep apnea.

Naveed Sattar, Professor of Metabolic Medicine at the University of Glasgow, shared his thoughts about people who nap regularly to be generally living a healthier lifestyle. "Those who nap one to two times per week have healthier lifestyles or organized 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.

"For now, far better to aim for regular good night's sleep and to follow usual lifestyle advice of good diets and decent activity levels."

I guess this brings on a whole new meaning to the who sleep when the baby sleeps things.

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