Napping May Be Good for Your Heart and Your Health, According to New Study

Good news: You no longer have to feel guilty for catching a few Z’s in the middle of the day.

If you think your napping days are over, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that napping is not only enjoyable (for many of us) but also good for our long term health.

According to Metro, a study from Lausanne, Switzerland found that people who took naps once or twice a week were 48 percent less likely to have “cardiovascular events” such as heart attacks or stroke.

The study tracked just under 3,500 people between the ages of 35 and 75 over an average period of five years each. Out of the people the researchers studied, they found that 58 percent did not take naps, 19 percent took one or two naps per week, 12 percent took three to five naps per week, and 11 percent took naps at least six days per week.

The data is unclear as to how napping everyday or every other day affects your health, but it seems like the veritable sweet spot was one or two per week.

The National Sleep Foundation also endorses taking a quick snooze during the day, saying that a 20 to 30 minute nap can “improve mood, alertness and performance.” A study at NASA also indicated that military pilots and astronauts who took 40 minute naps when they were tired increased their performance by 34 percent and alertness by 100 percent. The foundation notes that naps typically longer than 30 minutes can cause sleep inertia, however, which truly defeats the purpose of taking a nap.

The CDC says that sleep deprivation is a common cause for health concerns like obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease, so it appears that taking a nap is one way to help you relax and combat these issues. The National Sleep Foundation notes, though, that naps are not a sustainable way to make up for poor sleep at night.

It should also be noted that the study was mostly observational, so there is no accounting for people’s different lifestyle choices like diet and exercise, as well as age and family history. But perhaps combined with a good diet and the right amount of exercise for you, napping can be a great way to help manage your health and stress levels.

If anything, it’s a good excuse to put on that sleep mask and grab the nearest pillow.