Remember when you were in preschool and had a daily naptime? Have you ever been on the verge of exhaustion during a long day at work and just wish you could go back to those nursery school days? Turns out your little four-year-old self was onto something. That urge for an afternoon snooze is a healthy one: a recent study found that a nap helps to reduce both blood pressure and stress.
The fact is that many Americans are sleep deprived. With so much activity in our days now, on average we sleep nearly two hours less than people did just 50 years ago. This lack of sleep results in increased blood pressure as well as long-term cardiovascular problems. By dozing for just under an hour, napping employees in this study not only felt more refreshed and prepared to resume working, but also regained a normal blood pressure rate. The longer stress persists in a person’s body, the greater the risk of acquiring heart disease, so getting it under control as quickly as possible is pivotal.
Though napping may seem like a long shot to institute in the American workplace where not taking breaks is often seen as a positive, other countries already embrace the habit. Post-lunch “siestas” are commonplace in Spain and many Latin American countries. These cultures look at it as an advantage to have their workers refreshed and unstressed, and the health benefits are certainly something to be considered as well.
We let preschoolers have a daily naptime and their lives aren’t even stressful yet! Perhaps we should take a cue from the under-five set and kick back and catch some Zzz’s under our desks.