At Bel Canto Dental, we’re interested in your whole body health. A recent health study on heart health shows why taking a daytime nap will give you something to smile about.
A recent observational study published in the BMJ Journal Heart discovered that taking a daytime nap a couple of times a week could halve your risk of heart attacks, heart failure and stroke. Daytime napping is a subject that is shrouded in controversy as previous studies have found daytime nappers have a lower risk of coronary heart disease, while other studies have discovered the opposite. The controversy was part of the reason why researchers set out to examine the link between napping and non-fatal and fatal cardiovascular events to discover if this habit really could help heart health.
The researchers analyzed the association between the duration of naps and their frequency and the incidence of heart failure, heart attacks and stroke. They used data collated from self-reported sleeping patterns from participants who were enrolled in the CoLaus study and who didn’t have a history of cardiovascular problems. The participants were monitored an average of five years, and while more than half didn’t nap the previous week, almost 20% had napped once or twice, while 12% had napped 3 to 5 times. Approximately the same number had napped 6 to 7 times. Those who took more frequent naps tended to be overweight and older men who smoked and who also tended to sleep for longer at night. These men were more likely to have sleep apnoea and consequently feel sleepy during the day.
Over the five years that participants were monitored, there were 155 cardiovascular events. Researchers considered other factors like hypertension or heart disease and found that people who took one or two weekly naps were linked with a 48% lower chance of having heart failure, stroke or a heart attack compared with those who didn’t nap at all. However, the researchers didn’t discover any correlation for participants who napped more frequently or for longer.
Making the Most of Daytime Napping
In addition to improving heart health, other potential benefits include reduced fatigue and increased alertness, better mood, and improved performance and memory. However, daytime napping isn’t for everybody, and some people find it difficult to sleep anywhere other than their own bed. Another potential negative of daytime napping includes sleep inertia, where you wake up feeling groggy and disoriented. Napping for too long can cause sleeping problems and poor-quality sleep at night.
You might find it beneficial to consider a nap if you experience unexpected sleepiness or feel very fatigued or intend to make planned naps are part of your everyday routine. People who are about to work long shifts can also benefit from daytime naps. But, if you discover an increased need for naps despite no reason for feeling fatigued, you should see your GP.
Tips for Napping Comfortably
- Aim to keep your naps short, between 10 and 20 minutes. If you nap for longer, you are more likely to feel groggy and disoriented. Younger people don’t always feel these effects and can often tolerate longer naps.
- Plan your nap for the early afternoon as napping after 3 PM can interfere with your nighttime sleep quality. Pinpointing the best time for your nap depends on factors such as your age, whether you use medications, your sleeping schedule and your need for sleep.
- When you take your nap, make sure you can rest in a quiet, dark place at a comfortable sleeping temperature and with few distractions.
- When you finish napping, give yourself a few moments to wake up properly before resuming your day.
A healthy lifestyle starts with your teeth, because the mouth is your portal for nutrition and energy. But many other factors influence your health. If you’re not yet in the habit of taking daytime naps, this might be time to schedule them in.