Dr Michael Mosley on the importance of routine for sleep
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Cardiovascular events like heart attacks and strokes are considered the world’s leading causes of death, according to the World Health Organization. While lying down and dozing off might sound too good to reduce your risk of these health problems, Doctor Michael Mosley explains it might just work.
If you prefer to shut your eyes for a few minutes in the afternoon instead of having a cup of coffee, you might be onto something.
Doctor Mosley suggested that having a little midday slumber could reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke by a whopping 48 percent. It couldn’t be any easier as all you need to do is sleep.
While ensuring you get enough sleep during the night-time is still important, a nap can do “wonderful things for your mind and your body”, according to the doctor.
He penned for Daily Mail: “Not only can napping boost mood and well-being, but large studies have shown a link between regular napping and good heart health.
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“An occasional daytime nap was associated with a 48 percent lower risk of heart attack, stroke or heart failure.”
As the doctor suggested, you don’t need to take just his word for it as research, published in the journal Heart, also highlights the link between napping and heart health.
Having recruited adults from the city of Lausanne in Switzerland between the ages of 35 to 75, the scientists asked participants about their sleeping habits, afternoon naps, physical activity and medical history.
The team was interested to see whether those who indulged in naps had a higher or lower risk of cardiovascular events.
After adjusting the data for factors like age and sex, the team found the whopping reduction in heart attack and stroke risk.
The study discovered that people who napped once or twice a week enjoyed this sizeable reduction.
The researchers said: “Subjects who nap once or twice per week have a lower risk of incident CVD [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.”
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Doctor Mosley also spoke to doctor Sara Mednick, a cognitive neuroscientist and sleep researcher at the University of California, about the potent effects of napping.
While a 20-minute nap is enough to reset and increase your alertness and attention, getting a full hour is considered a “cardiovascular holiday”.
The doctor said: “A 60-minute nap gives you enough time to move into a stage called ‘slow-wave’ sleep, which can help to enhance memory.
“[Doctor Sara] likens this to a ‘cardiovascular holiday’, which gives your entire system the chance to calm down, and for your body to recuperate its resources and recover from the stress of the day.”
However, having a longer nap might come at a cost as the expert suggested that this could compromise your night-time shut-eye.
He said: “The downside of a long nap — anything lasting more than 30 minutes — is that you may then find it harder to get to sleep in the evening.
“So most of the experts I spoke to suggested that 20 to 30 minutes was the optimum length of time, preferably in the early afternoon, soon after lunch and no later than 3pm.”
The doctor added that if you or your boss think that an afternoon slumber “is a bit self-indulgent”, you should remember it can improve your thinking skills and reduce your risk of various cardiovascular events.
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