Zorba Paster: Get Some Sleep

New Research Shows That A Nap May Help Lower Blood Pressure

Laura D'Alessandro (CC BY)

I love napping. Love it. I think I got this from my grandfather who used to take a midday nap when he wasn’t working.

Note: He was not a lazy person. He came over from England when he was 16 with a wife and child, working nearly every day until he died in his 70s.

I don’t know why we associate taking a snooze with laziness. Recent research shows that a good night’s sleep may keep us from getting the common cold. Why? Perhaps because sleep is restorative. Perhaps because sleep is as important as exercise and eating right.

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The idea of sleeping all at one time really came up with industrialization — when men and women had to go to work in factories. No place for them to lie down and take a snooze.

I find a midday nap not only refreshing but something that gives me more energy later in the day.

Done right it’s a pick up, more than my usual 4 p.m. coffee break. New research out of the European Society of Hypertension shows that it’s also probably good for your heart.

Researchers took nearly 400 men and women dividing them up into nappers and non-nappers. They measured the usual things — height, weight, smoking, drinking, salting your food too much, lifestyle, exercise and daytime sleeping.

Their discovery — if you nap midday, your blood pressure was down an average of five points. Now this might not seem like much but research shows that for every point you lower your blood pressure, you gain measurable heart attack and stroke reduction.

In fact some blood pressure meds only have to prove that they will lower your pressure five points to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Why is this? Researchers who discovered the same thing years ago think that it’s because during the daytime nap your blood pressure is dropping, just like it does at night. With that let’s go one step further — it’s putting a relaxing nighttime cycle in the middle of the day when you’re doing so much.

If I look at this in a broad sense it makes me realize that we need to broaden our idea of diet to include diet, exercise and rest and “time out.” If we extend this a bit perhaps we should also brag about being in bed for 8 hours.

We need to consider this seriously. Anything you can do to relax your body and mind is worthwhile. I don’t think it’s just napping. It’s probably yoga. It’s certainly mindfulness or meditation. It’s putting our high stress, high energy day-to-day world at bay — and doing this midday has its advantages. It feels good too.