How a power nap protects your heart

We love naps! They not only make us fit but also strengthen our hearts. But only under certain conditions, as a new study shows.
After lunch, most of us feel a little sleepy at first. No wonder: the body is busy digesting and our energy level drops to rock bottom. Those who can, certainly like to take a nap now. Doctors have been preaching for a long time that this not only lifts our spirits but also makes us fit in the head again. Many studies also suggest that a nap can protect us from heart attacks and strokes. But is that always true? No! At least that's what researchers at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland are now saying. In fact, their new study found that only a certain number of naps each week actually protects our hearts.

Yes to naps - but in moderation
In total, the scientists examined data from 3,262 people over five years. The subjects were divided into groups - based on how many times a week they napped. Most participants, 58 percent, didn't take one at all. Some indulged in afternoon naps once or twice a week (19 percent), 12 percent took three to five naps a week, and 11 percent even took short naps almost every day.

Surprising conclusion
The study result: those who napped once or twice a week had a 48 percent lower risk of heart attack or stroke - compared with the other groups. Second place went to the subjects who didn't sleep at all between naps. And, surprisingly, those who napped almost every day had the highest risk of heart attack and stroke.

It was precisely the result of the participants who took a nap almost every day that surprised study author Dr. Nadine Hausler and her team. The researchers had already included other factors that could influence the result in the study. All the results were published in the British Medical Journal.

Midday nap to combat stress
So the study proves that naps are healthy - but only in moderation. The best protection for our heart is to take a short afternoon nap once or twice a week. This also lowers our stress level and can, for example, compensate somewhat for poor sleep at night.


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