How often do you take naps? When you're feeling tired or fatigued in the middle of the day, you may kick off your shoes to rest awhile. While some people assume that naps have a negative impact on heart health, there's new evidence suggesting the opposite is true.
Study Links Naps to Lower Risk of Heart Disease
According to a new study published in the medical journal Heart, taking regular naps lowers the risk of heart disease. After analyzing medical data, researchers at the University Hospital of Lausanna in Switzerland found that people who took naps were roughly half as likely to experience a heart attack and stroke as their counterparts who took few or no naps.
How does napping have such a profound impact on the health of your heart exactly? Researchers were reluctant to speculate how napping improves or otherwise benefits the heart. Rather, they simply found a link between regular napping and improved heart health. Participants in the study who napped regularly were less likely to experience a heart attack and strong than participants who took fewer naps.
With that said, some experts believe napping helps to regulate the body's internal clock. When you take a nap, your body's circadian rhythm balances itself, which may manifest as improved blood pressure as well as glucose levels. In turn, these effects could have a positive impact on your heart by lowering the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Don't Overdo It
If you're planning to nap, though, you shouldn't overdo it. While regular napping can improve heart health, excessive napping can actually harm heart health. The study's researchers found that participants who napped excessively had a similar risk of heart attack and stroke as participants who didn't nap at all.
Rather than napping for extended periods of time, such as over an hour, keep your naps limited to no more than 30 minutes. A half-hour nap should restore your body's energy levels without having any negative impacts on your heart health.
In addition to taking regular naps, there are other ways to lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. Eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, for instance, has been shown to improve heart health. Not to be confused with the pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids, omega-3s are known for their anti-inflammatory effects. When consumed, they reduce inflammation and swelling in the body, which are often viewed as hallmarks for heart disease.