Yes folks, there’s solid proof. So next time you feel like napping at work you might want to throw this article in your boss’s face and explain how it’s for the good of your health.
I can’t count the many times I’ve wanted to rest my eyes during a stupendously busy shift. Either to make up for the lack of sleep I got from a boozy night or from staying up watching a TV marathon the night before.
The fact that there’s a chance that I can possibly negotiate a nap schedule with my boss in future is already making me feel a lot less tired.
A recent study – published in the British Medical Journal, Heart – suggested that people who take a daytime nap once or twice a week are almost 50 per cent less at risk compared with those who never snooze during the day.
This is because a lack of sleep raises the risk of atherosclerosis, which is a build-up of plaque in the body’s arteries that causes them to narrow and harden.
Now before you start picking your pillow for your next set of naps, there is, however, such a thing as too much napping.
According to the study, napping any more than twice a week had no further benefits on heart health. Got to pick your days wisely it seems.
We have the research team from the University Hospital of Lausanne in Switzerland to thank for this momentous study. The team monitored around 3,400 people aged 35 to 75 for an average of five years, none of which were known to have been sleep-deprived.
They mainly focused on looking for the association between napping frequency and average nap duration, and the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
During the experiment, there were 155 recorded heart attacks or strokes. Napping once to twice weekly was associated with an almost halving the risk (48 per cent) compared with those who didn’t nap at all.
Dr Hausler, of the University Hospital of Lausanne, 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.”
She also mentioned that only people aged over 65 and had severe sleep apnoea were still at high risk of a heart attack or stroke if they were regular nappers. Still unlucky there guys.
Naveed Sattar, Professor of Metabolic Medicine at the University of Glasgow, said those who nap frequently during the week tend to be healthier overall.
He also said: “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.”
Napping almost every day means you’re sick? Well, that’s me booking a trip to the doctors.
He continued: ‘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.’
I’ll still be bringing my pillow and my mini sofa blanket to work and people’s houses anyway.
Gugu mashava is a Journalism (aka ‘not a real degree’) student who tends to self-medicate with cocktails. She was most likely taken on by The Hook, not for her mediocre article writing skills, but to fill a diversity quota. During her anti-The Hook hours, you can find her running through fields of wheat, spending her loans wisely on sales, and improving her intellect by watching trash TV.