What if we told you that your secret napping habits at work are not something to be embarrassed about, but championed? New studies have shown that a daily mid-day nap could do wonders for reducing blood pressure and staving off heart attacks.
In a new study conducted by the European Society of Cardiology, 386 men and women, who were already suffering from high blood pressure, had their BP monitored reviewed. The participants were recorded after every activity, such as sitting, walking – and especially how long they slept during the day.
In participants who were able to sleep for up an hour during the day, a 5% decrease in blood pressure was detected. Whilst this may seem like a small amount, it was a large enough difference to have a significant impact on likelihood of heart attacks, according to researchers.
“Although the mean BP decrease seems low, it has to be mentioned that reductions as small as 2 mmHg in systolic blood pressure can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events by up to 10 per cent,” said cardiologist Dr Kallistratos.
“Our study shows that not only is midday sleep associated with lower blood pressure, but longer sleeps are even more beneficial. Midday sleepers had greater dips in blood pressure while sleeping at night which is associated with better health outcomes. We also found that hypertensive patients who slept at noon were under fewer antihypertensive medications compared to those who didn’t sleep midday.”
Day time naps can also be a great way of combating sleep deprivation, releasing creativity and sparking the imagination.
According to Sara C. Mednick, PhD, the length of your nap can determine the benefits you receive.
“You can get incredible benefits from 15 to 20 minutes of napping,” she says. “You reset the system and get a burst of alertness and increased motor performance. That’s what most people really need to stave off sleepiness and get an energy boost.”
Research has shown that napping for approximately 30-60 minutes is beneficial for decision-making and memory skills such as extending vocabulary and recalling directions.
Mednick states that before you reach for a cup of coffee to up your energy levels, consider taking a nap instead, which will act to replenish your system instead of providing a false surge of “energy” only to crash later.
So whilst initiating this idea in the office might take some convincing, it is worth noting that the benefits of napping such as stress relief, increased productivity and alertness, are something that your employer would surely be interested in.
According to WebMD the best ways to nap are as follows.
Be consistent. Keep a regular nap schedule. Prime napping time falls in the middle of the day, between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Make it quick. Set your cell phone alarm for 30 minutes or less if you don’t want to wake up groggy.
Go dark. Nap in a dark room or wear an eye mask. Blocking out light helps you fall asleep faster.