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Taking A Nap Twice A Week Can Cut Heart Attack Risk In Half, Study Finds

Ryan Ford 10 Sep 2019

If you love a little one-on-one time with your bed in the afternoon, you're doing something right, and it's backed up by science.

According to a new study published in the journal Heart, taking a nap once or twice a week can cut your risk of heart attack or stroke by up to half.

Let's face it, too few of us are getting enough shut-eye at night.

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Between screen time and family time and the pressures of getting everything you need to get done in the hours allotted in a day, many of us just don't get the sleep we need, and it's hurting us.

Sleep deprivation doesn't just make you feel slow and sluggish the next day — it can impact your physical health, leading to heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke, among other things.

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However, catching up with a nap can help, according to research out of Switzerland.

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Researchers working out of the University Hospital of Lausanne took a look at 3,500 people living in the Alpine country and examined their napping habits over five years.

"We looked at healthy adults and found that people who take occasional naps — once or twice a week — had a lower risk for cardiovascular disease compared to people who were not napping at all," said Nadine Häusler, the lead author of the study.

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Those 3,500 people, all between the ages of 35 and 75, started out healthy, without evidence of heart disease, and without reporting any sleep deprivation.

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More than half said they never napped, while 10% said they napped daily.

About 20% hit that once or twice a week ideal napping zone, at which the researchers found the risk of heart attack, stroke, or heart failure went down a whopping 48%.

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Oddly enough, taking more or longer naps didn't seem to have any impact.

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Whether the participants nodded off for a few minutes or zonked out for an hour or two didn't seem to matter. The researchers also weren't entirely sure why napping reduced heart attack and stroke risk.

"Our best guess is that a daytime nap just releases stress from insufficient sleep," Häusler told NBC News.

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As promising as this all sounds, it's unlikely that doctors will be getting any of us out of work for naps anytime soon.

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In an editorial linked to the study, UCSF researchers Drs. Yue Leng and Kristine Yaffe noted that there are some issues when it comes to studying naps, especially that no two are alike, making it "premature to conclude on the appropriateness of napping for maintaining optimal heart health."

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That's not to say that they don't see any promise in the study's findings, however.

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"The study of napping is a challenging but also a promising field with potentially significant public health implications," they wrote. "While there remain more questions than answers, it is time to start unveiling the power of naps for a supercharged heart."

So, it's got to be worth trying, right?

h/t: NBC News, Heart

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