Napping at Work is Good for the Heart

Businessman asleep on his office desk
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It looks like nap time isn't just for toddlers any more. A recent study shows that bagging a few Zs during the day at work could not only refresh you and reduce stress, but could even have cardiovascular benefits.

The study, by Ryan Brindle and Sarah Conklin, from Allegheny College in Pennsylvania, found that those participants who slept for at least 45 minutes during the day had lower average blood pressure after psychological stress than those who did not sleep. The work is published in Springer's journal International Journal of Behavioral Medicine.

The researchers explain that long work schedules, shift work, increased anxiety, and even greater use of the Internet and television late at night, have all had an impact on nocturnal sleep. It seems that as a society we no longer sleep as long as we used to, with the average sleep duration now almost two hours shorter per night than it was 50 years ago.

Less sleep could be adversely affecting our long-term health. For example, sleeping less has been linked to an increased risk of hypertension and cardiovascular problems. Brindle and Conklin wanted to see how we might be affected by less sleep in a normal work day, so they split 85 healthy university students into two groups: One group was allotted a 60-minute interval during the day when they had the opportunity to sleep; the other group did not sleep during the day.

The researchers found that daytime sleep seemed to have a restorative effect with students who napped reporting lower scores of sleepiness than those who did not sleep. Those who had napped also had significantly lower average blood pressure readings than those who had not slept.

So next time your boss catches you napping at your desk, yawn, stretch and make it known you're actually recharging your batteries, and that it has been scientifically proven that you'll be able to handle stress better for having napped. Then suggest that the company convert that meditation room they built in the '90s into a napping room, complete with cots and blankies.

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