Here’s the exact sweet spot for the amount of sleep that protects your heart (naps included)

Many of us see an afternoon nap as an indulgence, a way to steal time. Napping is actually so important to our health that a new study published in the journal Heart says that one or two naps a week is linked to warding off some very scary diseases – both a lower heart attack and stroke risk.

The duration and the frequency of the napping remain unclear. “While there remain more questions than answers, it is time to start unveiling the power of naps for a supercharged heart,” said researchers Dr. Yue Leng and Kristine Yaffee, of the University of California at San Francisco.

Sleeping too much, too little bad increases risk for heart attack

Like Goldilocks, a new study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology involving half a million people found that getting the “just right” amount of sleep helps protect your heart health. Getting too much or too little sleep – even if you’re otherwise healthy, say a non-smoking exerciser with no genetic predisposition to heart disease – can increase your risk of a heart attack.

However, sleeping between six and nine hours counterbalances the risk of heart attack for those with a high genetic risk.

“It’s kind of a hopeful message, that regardless of what your inherited risk for heart attack is, sleeping a healthy amount may cut that risk just like eating a healthy diet, not smoking, and other lifestyle approaches can,” said lead author Iyas Daghlas, a medical student at Harvard, in a release.