A Nap A Day Keeps The Doctor Away

by DavalosMcCormack on November 17, 2008

What if I told you there is a simple activity that can help you lower your blood pressure, reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke, increase your alertness, and put you in a better mood. Best of all it doesn’t involve any medication, any special equipment, in fact it doesn’t involve any effort at all and doesn’t cost any money. You’d probably wonder what the heck I’ve been smoking. But there is something that does all those things. It’s called napping.

Remember back in elementary school when the teacher told you and the rest of the class to “put your heads down on the desk”, turns out that had bigger benefits than just giving the teacher a few minutes of peace and quiet.

There is a growing body of research to show that taking a nap during the middle of the day can have a wide range of health benefits. For instance, a recent study from Greece showed that people who napped at least three times a week, for around half an hour, had a 37 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease, compared to those who didn’t nap.

Researchers in England also recently found that just before people took a nap, their blood pressure dropped. OK, so the actual drop wasn’t huge but even small changes, over a long period of time can have an important impact on overall health.

Other studies have shown that napping can increase creativity, productivity, even improve memory. It can also reduce the risk of accident and death. Studies have shown that sleep-deprivation may be as big a cause of accidents and auto crashes as drunk driving. In fact, researchers at Cornell University estimate that fatigue from lack of sleep costs the U.S. around $150 billion a year.

So, if it doesn’t cost anything and it produces such big benefits why don’t more of us take naps? Well, most workplaces are not nap friendly and there are not many bosses who would approve of their employees putting their heads down for a few minutes every day. Of course if they realized that it would make their staff more productive, and that if they weren’t napping they’d just be shopping or playing fantasy football online, then perhaps bosses would change their mind.

But even if your boss doesn’t approve, that doesn’t mean you can’t do a little guerrilla napping. During lunch hour, spend half an hour eating and then find a quiet place to nap (try slipping under your desk – hey it worked for George Costanza in “Seinfeld”). Or if you drive to work, pop down to your car and take a nap there. Just remember to set an alarm so you don’t oversleep!

Still not convinced. Well, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill used to take daily naps during World War 2, and cyclist Lance Armstrong is a big napper. Things turned out quite well for them didn’t they!

All you need is 20 minutes. It may be the easiest thing you ever do to improve your mental and physical health.

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