New Study: Daytime Nap Reduces Risk of Cardiovascular Problems

  • As part of a more than five-year study, 3,500 Swiss residents without serious prior cardiovascular problems were selected.
  • The risk of such complications was the lowest in the group whose participants slept only once or twice a week during the day.
  • Statistics turned out to be inapplicable for people over 65 years old.

Most of us do not need to be convinced of the benefits of daytime sleep. However, a number of studies have previously indicated a possible association between taking a nap during the day and serious cardiovascular diseases, or even type 2 diabetes. Scientists from the University Hospital Center in Lausanne, Switzerland decided to clarify this issue and decided to find out how the frequency of daytime sleep affects human health.

As part of a more than five-year study, 3,500 Swiss residents without serious prior cardiovascular problems were selected. Some of them had the habit of sleeping during the day and did this on average twice a week, some were interrupted for a quiet hour every day, others neglected daytime rest.

The Lausanne University Hospital (French: Centre hospitalier universitaire vaudois, CHUV), in Lausanne, is one of the five university hospitals in Switzerland. In 2019, the university hospital was rated as the leading hospital in Switzerland and 9th best hospital in the world by Newsweek Magazine.

During the study, 155 various kinds of complications associated with the work of the heart and blood vessels were recorded, while the risk of such complications was the lowest in the group whose participants slept only once or twice a week during the day. It decreased by 48% (even taking into account bad habits that increase the likelihood of these diseases, for example, smoking).

Interestingly, in the group of sleep lovers, whose participants regularly went to bed for a nap five to six times a week, the risk indicators did not change significantly. In some cases, on the contrary, the risk increased.

The organizers of the study attribute this to the fact that increased drowsiness, in and of itself, can be the result of malfunctions in the body. Therefore, some of this group was initially in a zone of increased risk, although people themselves did not suspect this before. Another exception to the rule was revealed: statistics turned out to be inapplicable for people over 65 years old, which scientists also associate with the general state of health for this group, and the presence of more diseases than younger respondents.

Drowsiness refers to feeling abnormally sleepy during the day. People who are drowsy may fall asleep in inappropriate situations or at inappropriate times. Excessive daytime sleepiness (without a known cause) may be a sign of a sleep disorder.

Concentrating on the frequency of daytime sleep, Swiss scientists did not set themselves the task of finding out the effect of its duration on the health of the participants in the experiment. This question will become, according to scientists, the topic of future research. As part of the current study, participants slept between five and 60 minutes during the day. Most of them admit that 20 minutes of daytime sleep is enough to “recharge.”

The results of the study contradict a number of previously published studies, the authors of which pointed to the danger of the condition after waking up, when there is a jump in blood pressure, which can lead to problems in the work of the heart. However, Swiss scientists did not reveal such a pattern.

Scientists are not able to explain in detail the mechanism of the beneficial effects of daytime rest on the body. Most likely, we are talking about quickly getting rid of the stressful loads that accumulate during the day, improving the emotional background as a result of a break in work.

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Joyce Davis

My history goes back to 2002 and I  worked as a reporter, interviewer, news editor, copy editor, managing editor, newsletter founder, almanac profiler, and news radio broadcaster.


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