To nap or not to nap? It may not be the most pressing question you face, but it is one that has been challenging investigators for years. Some prior studies showed that napping was not healthy, while others suggested napping might be good for your health.
The Swiss Snooze Study:
Swiss scientists conducted an observational study of more than 3,400 people for over five years (Heart, Sept. 9, 2019). They collected data on nap habits and cardiovascular complications of these middle-aged individuals.
Those who reported taking a nap once or twice a week, for periods ranging from five minutes to an hour, were 48 percent less like to have a heart attack, stroke or heart failure. More frequent nappers did not appear to be protected from such events.
In their own words the Swiss Scientists concluded:
“Subjects napping once or twice weekly had a lower risk of developing any CVD [cardiovascular disease] event compared with non-nappers. This finding is comparable with the result of the Greek cohort study taking nap frequency into account, as they reported lower coronary mortality for subjects napping once or twice weekly compared with non-nappers”
Is Snoozing Safe?
If we can conclude anything about this research it is that occasional napping may be good for us. There was no increased risk associated with more frequent naps.
An editorial in the same issue of Heart (Sept. 9, 2019) notes that there has been a lot of confusion around naps:
“A pioneering Greek case–control study from the late 1980s2 compared 97 men with an acute episode of coronary heart disease (CHD) and 90 control subjects, and showed a 30% reduction in the incidence of CHD associated with a 30 min afternoon nap. Over the past decade, growing epidemiological evidence has pointed to napping as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD), and a recent meta-analysis3summarised 11 prospective studies and concluded that there was a J-shaped dose–response relationship, in which the risk of CVD decreased with increasing nap duration until it reached 30 min/day, but started to increase with longer naps after the 30 min/day threshold.
“The study of napping is a challenging but also a promising field with potentially significant public health implications. While there remain to be more questions than answers, it is time to start unveiling the power of naps for a supercharged heart.”
Do You Take Naps?
Share your story in the comment section. What are your thoughts about taking an occasional nap? Good or bad for your health?