New Study Shows 5 Ways Afternoon Naps Improve Your Health

Afternoon naps may have disappeared after preschool, but a new study suggests they may be healthier than we think. New research presented at the European Society of Cardiology in London suggests adults should indulge in hourlong afternoon naps for the sake of their health.

Dr. Manolis Kallistratos, a Greek cardiologist told Eureka Alert that midday naps should be considered an important part of a healthy lifestyle.

"Μidday sleep is a habit that nowadays is almost a privileged due to a nine to five working culture and intense daily routine. However the real question regarding this habit is: is it only a custom or is it also beneficial?"
Naps improve health
ATHENS - AUGUST 30: Georgia Bulldogs mascot UGA VII takes a nap in his dog house on August 30, 2008 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)

The scientists studied almost 400 people with high blood pressure and adjusted for factors like body mass index, salt intake, alcohol consumption, coffee, and whether they smoke.

They found patients who took naps of at least an hour had significant health improvements over those who stayed awake the entire day. They also discovered longer naps were better than short ones.

5 ways naps improve health
KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN - MARCH 16: A soldier in the U.S. Army naps during a slow afternoon on March 16, 2013 in Kandahar Province, Maiwand District, Afghanistan. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

The health benefits of taking naps include:

Lower Blood Pressure

Adults who take midday naps of at least an hour were found to have lower blood pressure all day long. Those midday sleepers had a lower blood pressure of at least five percent, which may seem small, but can be important when you realize adults who can lower their blood pressure by two percent can reduce the risk of a heart attack by up to 10 percent.

Decreases Risk of Heart Attack or Stroke

Midday nappers were found to have lower systolic blood pressure and their hearts and arteries were found to be less damaged than those who stayed awake all day. Adults who slept during the day were also found to have a lowered risk of heart attack or stroke while sleeping during the night.

Reduced Medications

The result of lowered blood pressure and decreased risk in stroke or heart attack meant the siesta takers needed less medicine to keep them healthy.

Better Mood

A study by the National Sleep Foundation discovered adults who took naps at least 30 to 40 minutes long were more alert and performed better during skills tests.


Midday sleep also has the psychological benefit of resetting the person's mind. They're like mini-breaks from reality.

If you feel the need for a midday nap you're in good company. Famous nappers include Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Thomas Edison, and George W. Bush.

[Photo by Mike Brown/Mike Zarrilli/Andrew Burton/Getty Images]