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Healthy Heart Rx: Afternoon Nap

by R. Carnavale June 12th, 2012 | Health Observance, Men's Health
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Heart disease kills more than 650,000 Americans each year and is the nation’s number 1 cause of death. But did you know that an afternoon siesta can substantially reduce your risk of having a death due to heart disease? A six-year study of 23,681 healthy male and female volunteers in Greece reveals that people who take a midday nap have a 37-percent lower risk of dying from heart disease than people who don’t. Even more startling: results from the study indicate that working men who nap have a 64-percent reduced risk of death when compared to their non-napping cohorts.

The study was conducted by Dimitrios Trichopoulos, a cardiologist at Harvard University’s School of Public Health. He notes that “in countries where mortality from coronary diseases is low, siesta is quite prevalent.” Trichopoulos says there are no known adverse side effects to taking a nap and napping can be an enjoyable experience. In addition, a nap helps your body to unwind and relax, protects your overall health, and makes you more productive. Naps also help to improve memory, mood, and overall cognitive functioning. Michael Twery, who directs the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute’s National Center on Sleep Disorders Research, says naps may be a part of the normal biological rhythm of daily living: “The biological clock that drives sleep and wakefulness has two cycles each day, and one of them dips usually in the early afternoon. It’s possible that not engaging in napping for some people might disrupt these processes.”

Additional reading:

Midday Naps Found to Help Fend Off Heart Disease:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/12/AR2007021200626.html

Siesta in Healthy Adults and Coronary Mortality in the General Population:

http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?volume=167&issue=3&page=296

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