A regular mid-day nap can help lower blood pressure and ward off heart attacks, doctors have revealed. Experts in Athens, Greece, say people should follow in the footsteps of Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher by taking siestas.
The new research, presented at the European Society of Cardiology conference in London, revealed how a daily snooze of an hour or more also cuts the need for blood pressure medications.
Sir Winston famously said that nature had not intended man to work from 8am until midnight ‘without that refreshment of blessed oblivion’ in the middle of the day.
Dr Manolis Kallistratos, a cardiologist at Asklepieion Voula General Hospital in Athens, who led the new study, said: ‘Although 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 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 around 3PM. 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.
The study included 386 people with raised blood pressure who were aged 61 on average.
After adjusting for other health factors that might influence the results, it found that people who take naps on daily basis had a 4 per cent lower blood pressure reading when they were awake and a 6 per cent lower reading while they slept at night than people who did not nap.
Dr. Kallistratos said that although the reductions seemed low, even modest reductions could cut the risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke, by up to 10 per cent.
Other findings from the study also suggest that midday sleepers experience less damage from high blood pressure in their arteries and heart.
Dr. Kallistratos said: ‘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.
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