Remember the afternoon nap? We often think of them as falling in the domain of preschoolers and the leisurely, but a new study suggests they may be healthier than we think. Research presented at the European Society of Cardiology in London recommend that adults should indulge in hourlong afternoon naps for the sake of their health. Sleep deprivation is a very real problem, and consistent lack of sleep can lead to both physical and psychological ailments, including chronic issues like obesity, diabetes, stress, and cognitive impairment. Most of us are chronically sleep-deprived and a quick nap can work miracles.
Cardiologist Dr Manolis Kallistratos, of Asklepieion Voula general hospital in Athens, said, “Although the poet William Blake affirms that it is better to think in the morning, act at noon, eat in the evening and sleep at night, noon sleep seems to have beneficial effects.
“Two influential British Prime Ministers were supporters of the midday nap. Winston Churchill said that we must sleep sometime between lunch and dinner while Margaret Thatcher didn’t want to be disturbed at around 3pm. According to our study they were right because midday naps seem to lower blood pressure levels.”
In the study, the scientists studied roughly 400 people with high blood pressure and adjusted for factors such as body mass index, salt intake, alcohol consumption, coffee, and whether they’re smokers. They discovered that those who took naps for at least an hour saw significant health improvements while those who stayed awake the entire day did not. The study also showed that longer naps are better than short ones.
While many people are unlikely to be able to take regular afternoon naps due to our current work culture and 9 to 5 schedules, it could be incredibly beneficial to make napping more popular.
The health benefits of taking afternoon naps include:
Lower Blood Pressure
Adults who take midday naps for at least an hour were found to have lower blood pressure throughout the day. These nappers had a lower blood pressure of at least five percent. This is significant because adults who can lower their blood pressure by two percent can reduce the risk of a heart attack by up to 10 percent!
Decrease Risk of Heart Attack or Stroke
The study found that nappers had lower systolic blood pressure and their hearts as well as arteries were found to be less damaged than those who stayed awake all day. Adults who slept during the day were also found to have a lowered risk of heart attack or stroke while sleeping during the night.
Obviously, the result of lowered blood pressure and decreased risk in heart attack or stroke meant that nappers would need less medicine to keep them healthy.
Think back to those preschool days when you were a toddler who hadn’t taken a nap. It wasn’t a pretty picture was it? Sleepiness and the ensuing crankiness affects our moods. A study by the National Sleep Foundation discovered adults who took naps at least 30 to 40 minutes long were more alert and performed better during skill test.
Afternoon naps also has the psychological benefit of resetting our minds. Naps are like mini-breaks from reality. Part of the reason a nap can get your smiling might be related to relaxation.
Are you convinced yet? Try taking an afternoon nap whenever you find the time. You’ll be healthier and more productive!