On the flip side, research has shown that one's cardiovascular health can benefit from taking an occasional nap.
Naps aren’t just for your kiddos and grandpa anymore! An observational study done by researchers from the University Hospital of Lausanne in Switzerland found that occasional napping can lower the risk of heart failure, heart attacks, and strokes.
The study tracked 3,462 Swiss people, aged 35 to 75 years, and watched their napping habits and heart health for over five years’ time. Participants were all fairly healthy, were not experiencing sleep deprivation, and had no previous evidence of heart disease. The findings were that those who napped once or twice a week, regardless of nap length, showed a lower risk for cardiovascular disease compared to those who do not nap at all—cutting their risk by 48 percent.
Occasional napping, once or twice a week, and frequent napping three times a week to every day are not the same, and the study showed that those who reported napping every day tended to be older men with possible underlying health issues, including being overweight, smoking, and sleep apnea. That population reported sleeping for long periods at night, but also woke up more often at night, and experienced daytime fatigue and tiredness.
Excessive napping can mean an underlying health issue, and taking long naps every day is not something that is recommended, or proven to help heart health.
The study observed nap behavior by having participants report weekly on their nap behavior for a period of three years. At the end of the three-year stretch, the health of participants was tracked for another five years. In that five-year time, 155 cardiovascular health events were observed, both fatal and non-fatal.
The study was observational, meaning that researchers observed, collected data, and analyzed it, and did not take any action to change or alter participants behavior. They were not looking for a cause of cardiovascular health issue, they were observing napping behaviors effect on cardiovascular health.
While this research doesn’t mean that we should all start sleeping our afternoons away, it does offer support for taking that little time out for a catnap once in a while is beneficial. Naps can refresh, rejuvenate, and boost our moods and overall well-being. Research has been done that shows emotional, cognitive, and immune benefits to napping, though it is an area that needs a lot more investigation. This study is one step in the direction of proving what other benefits napping and a good night’s sleep have on our overall health.
We were already fans of a mid-afternoon nap, and now we have another reason to carve out some time to curl up and catch those Z’s.
Do you feel better after a quick catnap or a long snooze? Let us know what you think about all this napping news in the comments.