Napping 1-2 Times a Week Can Help You Live Longer, According to a Study
Curl up under a warm blanket in the afternoon and let yourself fall into the world of sweet dreams... Sounds tempting, doesn’t it? And now you don’t even have to feel guilty about your occasional after-lunch naps — while other people believe that you should only sleep at night, you can actually say that you’re improving your health by taking a short break during the day.
We at Bright Side went through a recent study on afternoon naps and found out exactly how they can help you live longer.
To do this study, researchers from the University Hospital of Lausanne, Switzerland, randomly recruited 3,462 adults from age 35 to 75. Among these people, 58% didn't take naps, 19% took one or 2 naps a week, 12% took 3-5 naps a week, and 11% took 6-7 naps a week.
Researchers tracked the people in the study for about 5 years, analyzing their sleep patterns and general health. Their main goal was to see whether people who took naps had a higher or lower risk of heart attacks and strokes than people who did not nap at all.
Over the course of 5 years, there were 155 fatal and non-fatal heart events, including heart attacks, strokes, and other heart illnesses caused by clogged arteries that required surgical operations. Among these cases:
- 93 people did not nap at all;
- 12 people had 1-2 naps;
- 22 people took 3-5 naps;
- 28 people had 6-7 naps.
In other words, people who napped once or twice a week turned out to be 48% less likely to experience serious heart issues than people who didn't take naps. The findings also showed that it didn't actually matter how long a person napped.
In general, a healthy person needs about 7-8 hours of sleep a day. If you sleep less, you have a higher risk of atherosclerosis, a build-up of plaque in the body's arteries that can lead to serious heart problems over time. That's where napping comes in - we usually use it as a protective measure to compensate for poor quality sleep at night.
That is why, according to researchers, the tendency to nap more than 3 times a week is not a healthy one. The study also proves this point - among its participants, frequent nappers were older, overweight, smoking males who admitted to sleeping for even longer at night, than those who said they didn't nap during the day.
Those who napped 1-2 times a week, on the contrary, tended to have a healthier lifestyle and organized life that allowed them to take these naps.
Although the results of the study might sound pretty impressive for those who love to doze off on the sofa for a few minutes, researchers point out that this is just an observational study and it can't establish the direct link between naps and the heart health.
However, another study in Greek men showed that those who regularly took a siesta were 37% less likely to pass away as a result of heart disease. So it's probably still better to include napping in your routine once or twice a week.
How often do you take afternoon naps? Will you take them more regularly after reading this article? Please, share your opinions in the comments!
Illustrated by Polina Koshel and Alena Sofronova for BrightSide.me