February 13, 2007 / 2:11 PM / 13 years ago

Some advice to take to heart -- take a nap

CHICAGO, Feb 12 (Reuters Life!) - Regular naps are good for your heart, researchers said on Monday.

A six-year study of nearly 24,000 Greek adults found those who regularly took midday naps lowered their risk of dying from heart disease by more than a third.

Those who made it a practice of napping at least three times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes had a 37 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease compared to non-nappers.

The relationship was even stronger among employed men as compared to unemployed men, with nappers apparently relieving some of the work-related stress that was bad for their hearts, researchers at the University of Athens Medical School said.

The same conclusion could not be made for working women because of a limited number of subjects.

“We interpret our findings as indicating that among healthy adults, siesta, possibly on account of stress-releasing consequences, may reduce coronary mortality,” lead author Androniki Naska wrote in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Occasional nappers were also less likely to die from heart problems than those who did not nap, but researchers said the benefit was not significant.

Out of 792 men and women who died during the follow-up period, 133 died from heart disease. Roughly half the subjects took naps.

Unlike previous studies that have produced mixed findings on the heart benefits of napping, this study controlled for the effect from smoking, diet and exercise. None of the subjects, who ranged in age from 20 to 86, were ill when the study began.

“This is an important finding because the siesta habit is common in many parts of the world, including the Mediterranean region and Central America,” Naska wrote.

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