Taking a daytime nap – even for only a few minutes – may dramatically cut the risk of a heart attack or stroke, a study suggests. Picture: Pixabay

London - Taking a daytime nap – even for only a few minutes – may dramatically cut the risk of a heart attack or stroke, a study suggests.

People who grab 40 winks once or twice a week are around half as likely to suffer the potentially fatal conditions as those who never nap, researchers found.

They tracked 3 462 residents of Lausanne, Switzerland, who were aged 35 to 75 at the start, for an average of five years. Of these, 58 percent did not nap, 19 per cent had taken one to two naps during the previous week, 12 percent had taken three to five and 11 percent six or seven.

Napping once or twice a week was linked with a 48 percent reduced risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke, even when other factors were taken into account, the researchers report in the online BMJ journal Heart.

No similar link emerged when naps were of greater frequency and it did not matter whether they lasted five minutes or an hour. 

This could be because those who took six or seven naps a week tended to be older, male, overweight and smokers. They also tended to suffer from sleep apnoea – disturbed breathing at night. 

Vanessa Smith, senior cardiac nurse for the British Heart Foundation, said: "Many of us might aim to grab an extra 40 winks but more evidence is needed before we can say regular napping can help to reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

"However, there are other changes you can make – doing 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week and eating a healthy Mediterranean-based diet."

Daily Mail