If you love your sleep, you’ll probably be pleased to read that taking a regular nap each day is recommended by some medical practitioners as a way to help you live longer.
This recommendation has stemmed from research conducted by Asklepieion General Hospital in Voula in Greece. The study found that taking a nap of twenty minutes each day lowered blood pressure, and could cut the chances of having a heart attack later on in life. Sounds like a good excuse to go back to bed to us!
It’s not such a radical idea though. In very hot countries an early afternoon siesta to avoid the hottest part of the day is a popular custom, but even in colder countries, thanks to our DNA we’re programmed to go sleepy in the afternoon because our ancestors would have rested during the midday sun. This means that we now have a natural dip in our circadian rhythm.
If you’re at home then it’s easier to have an afternoon nap, but if you’re at university or at work it’s harder to find a quiet place out of the way of colleagues. The good news is that even sitting quietly with your eyes shut can be beneficial. If you don’t feel comfortable taking a rest in your open plan office/the university library, it could be that booking a small room is the answer.
According to Dr Guy Meadows, the clinical director of The Sleep School, “when we’re in light sleep we don’t really know when we’re asleep or not. Seeing it as an opportunity to rest is really important. Even if you don’t fall asleep, you still get benefits.”
But why only twenty minutes for your nap? Sleeping longer than twenty minutes means you reach deeper sleep – something which is far harder to wake up from and can leave you feeling more tired than you did before you went to sleep!
Nap to lower your blood pressure and live longer? Better start taking a sleep mask with you (and setting an afternoon nap alarm!) when you go to work then.