Time for a snooze

By Tom Fortner • Published: April 25th, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Corporate America probably won’t take this lying down.

In a country that seems to thrive on caffeine and four hours of sleep a night, research showing that a midday nap taken several times a week reduces the risk of fatal heart problems could be considered downright seditious.

But those were the findings of a study of more than twenty-three-thousand Greek adults over a six-year period, considered the most definitive research to date on the effects of napping. Participants who took about a thirty-minute nap at least three times a week reduced their chances of dying of a heart attack or other heart ailment by more than a third.

The research looked at people ranging in age from twenty to eighty-six, but most of the participants were in their fifties. The benefits of napping were more pronounced in men, but that may be because more of the men worked outside the home and were subject to job-related stress.

Stress is believed to contribute to heart problems either directly by stimulating the release of damaging hormones or indirectly by promoting unhealthy behaviors like smoking or overeating.

A midday nap, or siesta, is commonplace in Mediterranean and Latin American cultures but not in the United States, where it is more likely to be viewed as a sign of laziness.

No doubt it will take time for this workplace attitude to change. But the study might cause bosses to rethink an old saying… If you snooze, you might just win a healthier you.