According to recent studies, naps may be highly beneficial to some, but they could also be a sign of early death for others.
’Midday sleep is a habit that nowadays is almost a privilege due to a nine to five working culture and intense daily routine.(…) Is it only a custom or is it also beneficial?’, mused Dr. Manolis Kallistratos, cardiologist at Asklepieion Voula General Hospital in Athens.
Dr. Kallistratos was the lead author of a study which suggests that naps should be included in our daily routine, to support our health. His research, which was presented at a European Society of Cardiology conference, analyzed 400 people who suffered from high blood pressure. Data was adjusted to exclude other factors such as sodium intake, body mass index, smoking, or drinking coffee and alcohol.
It was discovered that afternoon sleepers have blood pressure levels 5% lower than in the case of those who skip naps. It was found that the longer the nap, the more blood pressure drops, with those sleeping for more than 60 minutes benefiting the most. This is particularly worth noting, since prior studies have showed reducing blood pressure even by 2.5% diminishes the risk of cardiovascular disease by 10%.
In addition, the study showed that those who nap have healthier hearts and arteries, and they also tend to be happier and more efficient at work. Indeed, nowadays many people resort to naps as a way of coping with the daily grind. As many as 2 in 5 Americans need such a midday rest, and when they fail to get it, their productivity is greatly diminished.
On the other hand, needing naps could be an early indicator of undiagnosed health issues. For example, those who take rest at noon may suffer from sleep disturbance, which makes it more likely to develop diabetes. Moreover, according to a recent Cambridge study, regular nappers who require 1-hour-long rests have a 35% greater risk of dying. The more a person naps, the higher the probability of dealing with respiratory disease.
Long naps are also associated with a reduction in alertness, which is why 10-20 minute rests are usually the most effective. If you sleep for longer lengths of time, you will fall into the deep stage of sleeping, causing you to feel confused and disoriented upon waking up. In order to complete the sleeping cycle, one must take at least 90 minutes of rest.
Taking into account how contradictory studies in the field have proven, each person should try to see what works best for them, since every individual has different requirements when it comes to rest. For instance, as a Stanford University professor explained for the Wall Street Journal, dreaming during short naps is actually proof that you aren’t getting enough rest at night.
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