Take a Nap, Protect Your Heart?
Large Greek Study Suggests Midday Siestas Cut Heart Deaths
WebMD News Archive
Feb. 12, 2007 -- Eat right, get plenty of exercise, don’t smoke and -- take
a daily nap?
Naps aren’t generally included in the litany of good-for-your-heart
lifestyle choices recommended for lowering cardiovascular risk, but they may
New research suggests a midday siesta may reduce a person’s risk of death
from heart disease, possibly by lowering stress levels.
The findings must be confirmed, but Dimitrios Trichopoulos, MD, a study
author, tells WebMD there is little downside to taking naps -- and there could
be big health benefits.
“The siesta is a victim of progress. Most of us aren’t in the position to
take a daily nap,” he says. “But our research suggests that the practice could
help protect the heart, and we need further studies to find out if this really
is the case.”
Part of the Culture
Trichopoulos says the research stemmed from the observation that heart
disease death rates are lower in Mediterranean and Latin American countries
where midday siestas are part of the culture.
His own earlier research in a Greek population provided weak evidence in
favor of the nap hypothesis, but another, larger study, conducted in Costa Rica
failed to show an association.
The newly published Greek study by Trichopoulos and colleagues from the
Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and Greece’s University of Athens
Medical School is the largest ever to examine the issue in a previously healthy
A total of 23,681 residents of Greece with no history of heart disease,
stroke, or cancer at enrollment were followed an average of 6.3 years.