A well-respected study reported that they followed more than 23,000 people for six years and found that these people cut deaths from heart disease by as much as 37 percent! You may have missed this important study.
But, if you missed it because you were napping, you may be on the right track after all.
It turns out that napping, done right, appears to significantly reduce the incidence of heart disease.
One of the lead researchers, Dimitrios Trichopoulos, said, “These results would imply that a siesta could be added to the several means available for the control of coronary heart mortality, like healthy diets or cholesterol-lowering medications.”
Trichopoulos became interested in the study when he noted that heart disease rates are lower in Mediterranean and Latin American countries. The differences between diets in these countries and in countries where heart disease deaths are more common has been studied a great deal, but the correlation between sleep patterns and heart disease had not.
Participants in the study reported whether they took regular naps (3 a week for more than 30 minutes) or irregular naps (less often or shorter naps). The study controlled for the level of physical activity, diet, health, smoking status, age, education, and socioeconomic status.
The results confirmed what we all know about the increase in heart disease with smoking and obesity and also the decrease in heart disease in those who have higher education and physical activity or follow a Mediterranean diet.
However, when all other factors were controlled for, the study clearly showed that taking a regular nap lowers the risk of dying from heart disease 37 percent. Irregular naps lowered the factor by only 12 percent.
It’s important to note that these naps are taken voluntarily, not because people are sleep-deprived. Other studies that have found negative effects associated with napping are generally looking at people who report feeling too sleepy to get through the day. These people may have sleep apnea or other problems that are linked with more serious conditions, like diabetes and alzheimers.
So, if you want to take a healthy nap, do it right.
- Put on some white noise to drown out any disturbing sounds.
- Get as comfortable as possible.
- Nap early enough in the day to avoid interfering with bedtime.
- Nap either 20 minutes or 90 minutes to avoid being awakened from REM sleep.