LONDON, England, Tuesday September 1, 2015 – Afternoon nappers have been vindicated by new research findings which show that a regular midday snooze helps to lower blood pressure and ward off heart attacks and strokes.
The new study, which was presented in London at the European Society of Cardiology conference, also revealed that a daily nap of an hour or more helps reduce the need for blood pressure medications.
The Greek doctor who made the presentation advocated following in the footsteps of two British prime ministers, Sir Winston Churchill and Baroness Margaret Thatcher, by taking siestas.
Churchill, who led Britain through World War II, was quoted as saying that nature had not intended man to work from 8 a.m until midnight “without that refreshment of blessed oblivion” in the middle of the day.
Lead author of the new study Dr Manolis Kallistratos, a cardiologist at 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 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 3 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.”
The Greek study included 386 people, with an average age of 61, who suffered from high blood pressure.
After adjustments were made for other health factors that might have influenced the results, the study found that afternoon nappers had a four percent lower blood pressure reading when they were awake and a six percent lower reading while they slept at night than people who did not nap.
Although the reductions seemed low, Dr Kallistratos noted that even modest reductions could cut the risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke, by up to 10 per cent.
“Our study shows that not only is midday sleep associated with lower blood pressure, but longer sleeps are even more beneficial,” Dr Kallistratos said.
“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.”