Is Napping Good for Heart Health?

March 9 is National Napping Day. Do you need a nap after losing an hour of sleep this weekend? An expert weighs in on research about napping and your heart.

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CLEVELAND – Are you known to doze off for an afternoon power nap?

According to a recent study, your heart may be better or worse off – depending on how much you’re napping.

The study looked at 3,462 people and surveyed them on their napping habits over a five-year period.

“Individuals who were napping maybe two or three times a week had improved cardiovascular events and a lowering of these cardiovascular events, compared to those who weren’t napping or napping more frequently,” said Reena Mehra, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, who did not take part in the study.

Researchers also found those who were napping for longer durations had an increased risk of heart problems, whereas people who took ‘power naps’ of 15-20 minutes had a decrease in their risk of suffering a heart-related event.

Dr. Mehra said if people are taking short naps, 2-3 times a week, it is probably more likely to be for relaxation, and not because of a need to nap caused by an underlying sleep issue.

And while she believes it’s okay to take a short nap every now and then, Dr. Mehra typically doesn’t recommend napping at all.

Instead, she recommends aiming to get 7-8 hours of regular sleep every night.

“We usually recommend not napping,” said Dr. Mehra. “If you don’t have any underlying sleep disorders, when you nap, you no longer have that sleep pressure to fall asleep when it’s time to fall asleep during the nighttime.”

Dr. Mehra said if you’re getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night, but you still find yourself getting sleepy during the daytime, it could be an indication that the quality of the sleep you’re getting is not adequate.

Complete results of the study can be found in BMJ Heart.

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