Where are all the nap lovers at? It turns out that taking a nap every now and then isn’t a waste of time at all, and we couldn’t be happier about it. Today reports that a brand new study shows that taking a nap might actually help you to live longer, but as always, there is a bit of a catch.
Napping for the win
New research that was published in the Heart journal this week collected data from nearly 3,500 people living in Switzerland. All of the subjects were healthy and between the ages of 35 and 75. None of them were overly sleep-deprived. Nadine Häusler, who is an internist at University Hospital of Lausanne, was the lead author of this new research. According to her, the study showed that napping can be very good for your health: “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,” Häusler said.
A 5-year study was done
It seems a bit bold to claim that one to two naps a week could lower your risk for cardiovascular disease, but the study was pretty thorough. Häusler and her colleagues tracked the participants for a period of five years. The participants’ frequency of napping varied and Häusler and her team wanted to figure out what the ideal amount of naps would be to achieve optimal health benefits. About one in five participants found the sweet spot – one to two times per week. This specific frequency lowered the risk of getting a heart attack, stroke or suffering from heart failure by 48 percent.
Whoa, can you even believe that a nap could work such wonders? Regarding the duration of the nap, it doesn’t seem to matter. Whether you take a quick power nap of five minutes or snooze for more than an hour, the results remain the same, as long as you fit it in once or twice a week and no more.
Don’t overdo it on the naps
That is, of course, not the whole story. Too many naps could be bad for you. A study that was published back in February showed that people who nap during the weekend to catch up on lost sleep tend to reach for snacks, which increases their risk to gain extra weight. Also, if older people take frequent naps, it might be a sign of an underlying problem like Alzheimer’s disease. So, while a nap could be super beneficial to your health, it could also indicate when you need to go see your doctor.
More studies need to be done
It is important to note that this latest study doesn’t have the final say on the benefits of napping just yet. The study was observational, so it cannot prove cause and effect. “It could be that these people who nap once to twice a week are those who make napping a priority, because they know they don’t sleep enough during the week,” said Céline Vetter, an assistant professor at the University of Colorado Boulder who studies circadian rhythms and sleep disruption.
Even though the study showed that napping can improve heart health, how it does that is not yet clear. According to Häusler, their best guess at the moment is that a nap helps to release the stress people tend to experience when they suffer from insufficient sleep.
This correlates with a similar study that was done on adults in Greece back in 2007. This study found that those who took three naps a week were at a lower risk of getting a fatal heart attack. Working men showed the biggest improvement. At the time, researchers also thought that naps were reducing stress, and therefore people were showing signs of being healthier.
Researchers are still figuring out the details
Yue Leng, an epidemiologist studying sleep behavior at the University of California San Francisco, wrote an editorial that was published alongside the new study. Leng said that there is no way to know exactly how many naps will do the trick: “What is the timing, duration, and frequency of the naps? Do we count in a 5 min ‘dozing-off’ as a nap?” She also told NBC News that there is still a lot to learn about napping and that researchers don’t yet know enough about it. Häusler agreed with Leng on this, saying that more studies in this field are of the utmost importance.
Anyone up for a nap?
We don’t know about you, but we’re definitely going to try out this napping-twice-a-week thing. There’s never been a better excuse to get a bit more shuteye during a busy week. Happy napping everyone!
Do you like to nap? Do you notice any differences in how you feel by doing so? Let us know in the comments!