NAPPING twice a week slashes the risk of a heart attack or stroke by half, research reveals.
But there was no benefit for more frequent snoozing compared to having no daytime shut-eye at all.
Experts claim occasional napping — once or twice weekly — may help boost heart health by reducing stress levels and compensating for lack of sleep.
Swiss scientists followed nearly 3,500 adults aged between 35 and 75 over five years.
Writing in the journal Heart, lead researcher Dr Nadine Häusler, from the University Hospital of Lausanne, said: “Subjects who nap once or twice per week have a lower risk of incident cardiovascular disease events, while no association was found for more frequent napping or napping duration.
“Nap frequency may help explain the discrepant findings regarding the association between napping and CVD events.”
The team followed 3,462 adults and recorded how often they had a daytime snooze and for how long.
Those who napped once or twice a week saw their risk of fatal heart problems plummet by 48 per cent.
But there was no significant protective effect if people slept more often – suggesting their desire for rest was driven by an underlying health condition.
HOW LONG TO NAP FOR
Finally, experts found the duration of napping had no impact on heart attack or stroke risk.
Commenting on the study, Dr Yue Leng from the University of California at San Francisco, said the research has “potentially significant public health implications”.
She said: “[This research] contributes to the ongoing debate on the health implications of napping, and suggests that it might not only be the duration, but also the frequency that matters.
“While there remain more questions than answers, it is time to start unveiling the power of naps for a supercharged heart.”
In the UK, there are more than 100,000 hospital admissions annually due to heart attacks – one every five minutes.
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Vanessa Smith, Senior Cardiac Nurse for the British Heart Foundation, said: “Many of us might aim to grab an extra 40 winks here and there, but more evidence is needed before we can say that regular napping can help to reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
“However, there are many other lifestyle changes you can make which we know help to keep your heart and blood vessels healthy.
“Doing 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week and eating a healthy Mediterranean-based diet can reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. We also know that treating high blood pressure and managing your cholesterol can reduce your risk of life-threatening heart and circulatory diseases.”
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