It’s a well-established fact that taking a nap can improve one’s mood – a new study, however, has found more to it.
According to the new research, taking a regular 20-minute nap helps you live longer by decreasing your chances of suffering from a heart attack.
The study from Asklepieion General Hospital in Voula, Greece, found that resting your head lowers and regulates your blood pressure.
Cardiologist Manolis Kallistratos, the lead study author, said: “Napping can be easily adopted and typically doesn’t cost anything.
“Based on our findings, if someone has the luxury to take a nap during the day, it may also have benefits for high blood pressure.”
Kallistratos found that a regular nap of 20 minutes can reduce the blood pressure of an individual by 5mm Hg – which is nearly the same as that of a low dose of blood pressure medication.
So, getting sleepy during your workday is not only normal but also completely healthy.
Dr Guy Meadows, clinical director of The Sleep School, explained to Radio 1 Newsbeat why we frequently feel like taking a nap.
“It actually happens because you get a little dip in what we call the ‘alerting signals’, the waking signal that comes from your internal body clock that regulates your sleep and wake,” Dr Guy said.
He further said humans used to rest in the midday in pre-ancient times and that behavior became “imprinted in our circadian rhythms.”
“You’re always being switched on, in fight or flight mode, when we’re at work or at school,” Dr Guy said. “When you have a nap, you switch the other way, into rest and digest mode.”
In case, you think you can’t take a healthy nap when you’re at work, surrounded by your colleagues, you might be wrong since Dr Guy has a lot of ideas.
“Sitting quietly with your eyes closed can be really beneficial,” he said.
“It might be that you book a small room and do it in there or in the worst-case scenario you go to the toilet for 10 minutes and you sit there.”
During the summer, you can always go out into a park and close your eyes for a while.
“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,” Dr Guy said.
“Even if you don’t fall asleep, you still get benefits.”
The perfect duration to recharge yourself is 10-20 minutes, according to Dr Guy, but it varies person to person.
“It’s about experimenting and finding what’s right for you,” he said. “You want to be getting just the right amount, to wake up feeling refreshed but not foggy.”
“Sleeping longer than 20 minutes will mean you go into deeper sleep, which is harder to wake from and can leave you feeling much worse,” he added.
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