Mixed race man sleeping in armchair
Mixed race man sleeping in armchair

My husband would be delighted with the news.  When we lived in the Middle East he insisted that a mid-day nap was good for you.  I disagreed; said it was a waste of time, especially when you needed to wear sun-glasses in the bedroom at mid-day because the light bouncing off the sea outside was so strong.  But this was a man who could relax like a cat and sleep comfortably anywhere, even upright on an overnight jet.  Whatever …  turns out he was right.

Delegates at the European Society of Cardiology annual conference in London recently heard that people who took a nap during the day had lower blood pressure pressure both when awake and later, during their night time sleep.  The study presented was by researchers from the Asklepieion Voula General Hospital in Athens.  They had assessed 200 men and 186 women with an average age of 61, some of whom took regular naps.

The study found that those who snoozed at noon had blood pressure measurements on average five per cent lower than those who did not nap. Longer naps of up to an hour achieved the best results, the study found.  (My husband’s blood pressure was classic 130 over 80 all his life.)

The researchers said that the small difference, of around 5 percent, was enough to have a significant impact on rates of heart attack:far smaller reductions have been found to reduce the chance of cardiovascular events by 10 per cent. Also, overall, the average systolic blood pressure readings of the regular nappers were four per cent lower than the non-nappers when they were awake (5 mmHg) and 6 per cent lower while they slept at night (7 mmHg).  When hearts are healthy, blood pressure should drop at night.

Dr Manolis Kallistratos, lead researcher, and cardiologist from the hospital, suggested modern lifestyles should borrow some habits form the past.  But he added that most working people found it difficult to squeeze in a nap.   I love the photograph in the Telegraph’s report of an office worker snoozing under his desk.  Can’t see it catching on at my head office, though!


Louise Morse

Louise Morse MA (CBT) is media and external relations manager for the Pilgrims’ Friend Society. She is a writer and speaker, and author of books on issues of old age, including dementia, published by Lion Monarch and SPCK. She is a cognitive behavioural therapist, and her Masters’ dissertation examined the effects of caring for a loved one with dementia on close relatives.

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