A recent study found that taking a nap once or twice a week during the day significantly reduced the risk of stroke and heart attack. However, the study also showed that these benefits did not increase if the nap was taken more often and for longer.
There aren’t enough studies on sleep and napping yet
Researchers said that studies published so far did not take into account the frequency of naps but only deaths from cardiovascular disease and that there were not enough studies comparing the health effect people taking a nap during the day and those who did not.
In order to shed light on this subject, the researchers thus wanted to study what impact the frequency of naps and their average duration had on the risks of fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks, cerebrovascular accident (stroke) or even stroke. ‘heart failure. To do this, they performed a study among 3,462 randomly selected participants residing in Lausanne, Switzerland.
People who never take a nap are at risk for sleeping problems
In this study called CoLaus, participants were recruited between 2003 and 2006 and were between 35 and 75 years old. The goal of the researchers was to find the factors behind the development of cardiovascular disease. They thus carried out an initial assessment between 2009 and 2012, a period during which the researchers collected information on the participants’ sleep and weekly nap habits. The latter were also followed for five years.
As a result, 58% of participants reported never napping on weekdays, 19% reported taking one to two naps per week, 12% reported taking 3-5 naps per week, and 11% taking six to seven naps per week. week. Researchers also found that people who took between 3 to 7 naps per week were typically older participants, men, and smokers. The latter nevertheless assure that they also sleep longer at night than the participants who do not take a nap at all.
However, the researchers found that participants who did not nap were the most prone to sleepiness and obstructive sleep apnea. This is a condition in which the walls of the throat relax and narrow during sleep, obstructing breathing.
The occasional nap reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by 48%
During the follow-up phase, scientists observed 155 fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular events. They found that occasional naps – that is, once or twice a week – reduced the risk of seizures, strokes and heart failure by 48% compared to participants who abstained from having one. nap.
This result takes into account various potentially influencing factors such as age, duration of nighttime sleep and other risks of cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure and cholesterol. The result was also unchanged when considering more frequent and longer naps, depression, and regular nighttime sleep that lasts at least 6 hours per night. Only people aged 65 and over with severe sleep apnea were affected by these latter parameters.
The results of this study are still premature
However, while scientists initially found that people who took frequent naps had a 67% increased risk of cardiovascular events, this percentage fell and disappeared after controlling for various influencing factors and no association with cardiovascular disease events. was found for naps lasting 5 minutes to 1 hour or more.
However, this is only an observational study, and so scientists have not yet been able to establish any causes for the impact of napping and sleeping patterns on heart health. Science Daily report that Drs Yue Leng and Kristine Yaffe of the University of California at San Francisco explained in an editorial that this study is still “premature” and that more research is needed to “conclude on the relevance of the nap to maintain optimal heart health ”.
However, they add that “although the exact physiological pathways linking napping to cardiovascular disease risk are unclear, this research contributes to the ongoing debate about the health implications of napping and suggests that it might not just be the risk of napping. duration but also the frequency which counts ”. The study in question was published in the scientific journal Heart.