Greek researchers say taking daily naps of an hour or more can help lower blood pressure and prevent heart attacks. They presented their findings at the European Society of Cardiology conference.
Taking daily naps can lower blood pressure and prevent heart attacks.
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Greek researchers made the findings. Former British prime ministers Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher inspired the study. Mail Online's Julian Robinson reported on the development.
Despite his busy schedule, Churchill said people cannot abuse their bodies. He referred to his daily naps as "that refreshment of blessed oblivion," per Robinson.
Dr. Manolis Kallistratos is a cardiologist at Asklepieion Voula General Hospital in Athens. He confirmed the benefits of taking everyday siestas to Mail Online:
"Although (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 be 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 pm.
"'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 anti-hypertensive medications."
According to Robinson, the study involved 386 people. All of them were at least 61 years old.
Regular nappers decreased their blood pressure reading by four percent when they were awake. Their blood pressure reading lowered by six percent while sleeping at night. Mail Online confirmed the findings.
Dr. Kallistratos told Robinson these blood pressure improvements may seem modest. Nonetheless, they can reduce heart attack and stroke by as much as 10 percent.
He stressed this point to MedPageToday.com's Crystal Phend:
"We have to keep in mind that a reduction of blood pressure of just 2 mm Hg may decrease the relative risk of cardiovascular risk by up to 10 percent," he said. "So these 6 mm Hg may have prognostic significance."
He also said hypertensive people who nap everyday also have healthier arteries:
"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 anti-hypertensive medications compared to those who didn't sleep midday."
Dr. Christi Deaton works at the University of Cambridge Institute of Public Health. She lent her opinion on the findings.
"It's the accumulating evidence of how important our lifestyle is," she Phend.
Dr. Jose Ramon Gonzalez-Juanatey of Santiago de Compostela also chimed in. He shared his thoughts with MedPagetToday.com.
"It's a good explanation of these results -- the changes in sympathetic and parasympathetic drive after the REM period of sleep," he said.
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