Nap lovers everywhere: napping could save your life.
According to research presented at the European Society of Cardiology annual conference in London, mid-day naps don’t just give you an extra boost of energy or help you catch up on sleep, they also can reduce your blood pressure and prevent a future heart attack, according to The Telegraph.
The research involved 400 middle-aged men and women, and found that those who napped at noon later had lower blood pressure than those who stayed awake throughout the day.
And their blood pressure continued to stay lower later at night, during their overnight sleep. The difference in blood pressure was around 5 percent lower for nappers than non-nappers.
Five percent might not seem like a lot, but even smaller differences in blood pressure have been shown to decrease certain cardiovascular problems by 10 percent, so this is pretty huge news. Cardiologist Manolis Kallistratos, who conducted the study at a hospital in Athens, Greece, said that napping culture should obviously make a comeback, according to the Telegraph:
Two influential UK 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 3:00 p.m. According to our study, they were right because midday naps seem to lower blood pressure levels and may probably also decrease the number of required antihypertensive medications.
And it get’s even better. Longer naps of about an hour achieved the best blood pressure results, according to the study.
It’s important to note, though, that the study doesn’t attribute napping as the direct cause of the lower blood pressure.
Rather, people whose schedules are relaxed enough that they can squeeze in a mid-day nap may just live balanced, less stressful lives, according to Mental Floss.
Humans are actually part of the small group of monophasic sleepers, which means our days are divided into two distinct parts, one for sleep and one for being awake, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Although it’s not clear that this sleep pattern is natural, since 85 percent of mammalian species are polyphasic sleepers, which means they sleep for short periods throughout the day.
The National Sleep Foundation has also found that there are napping is good for your health, generally. Scheduled napping is good for people who suffer from narcolepsy and napping has intense psychological benefits.
Getting more sleep, generally, can help improve your memory; it can help you live longer; more sleep can curb inflammation linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and premature aging; it can help you be more creative; sleep can help you maintain a healthy weight and it can help you avoid anxiety and depression, according to Health.
Here’s a nifty chart by the Sleep Foundation to help you figure out just how much sleep you should be getting.
If you’re not getting enough at night, you should try to squeeze in a nap during the day. Down the road, a nap a day could seriously keep the doctor away.
Photo by @boetter