There are two types of people in this world, those who nap and those who don’t. It tells you a lot about a person.
But while we nappers are often maligned for being ‘lazy’, new research has shown that we might be onto something after all.
A recent study has found that those who manage to grab some shut-eye in the afternoon are almost at 50 percent less risk of suffering a heart attack compared to those who don’t.
Scientists say a lack of sleep raises the risk of atherosclerosis – a build-up of plaque in the body’s arteries – that causes them to narrow and harden.
So where does napping come in? Well, it’s often said that eight is the magic number when it comes to our recommended nightly routine, but as we all know, that’s not always possible, so napping is a good tool to catch up on the sleep we miss of a night.
According to reports, researchers from the University Hospital of Lausanne in Switzerland monitored 3,400 people aged between 35 and 75 for an average of five years.
During the study – published in the British Medical Journal, Heart – they looked at the link between napping frequency, average nap duration, and the risk of someone suffering from a heart attack or stroke.
Over the duration of the study, there were 155 heart attacks or strokes. Incredibly, however, they found that napping once to twice a week was linked with an almost halving of the risk (48 percent) compared with those who didn’t nap at all.
The study’s lead author Dr Nadine Hausler, of the University Hospital of Lausanne, said they also accounted for other factors that could potentially impact the results.
She said: “This association held true after taking account of potentially influential factors, such as age, and night-time sleep duration, as well as other cardiovascular disease risks, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol.
“And it didn’t change after factoring in excessive daytime sleepiness, depression, and regularly sleeping for at least six hours a night.”
Dr Hausler said regular napping was only found to have adverse effects on those aged over 65 and with severe sleep apnoea.
Naveed Sattar, Professor of Metabolic Medicine at the University of Glasgow, said regular nappers were generally healthier.
He added: “Those who nap one to two times per week have healthier lifestyles or organised lives that allow them to have these naps, whereas those who nap nearly every day are likely to be more sick.
“This means the former pattern of occasional napping is intentional and the latter of more regular napping likely represents sub-clinical illness linked to poorer lifestyle. This would then explain the differential risks.
“I don’t think one can work out from this work whether ‘intentional’ napping on one or two days per week improves heart health so no one should take from this that napping is a way to lessen their heart attack risk – to prove that would require proper trials but I’m not sure how feasible these would be.
“For now, far better to aim for regular good night’s sleep and to follow usual lifestyle advice of good diets and decent activity levels.”