How to get the perfect nap (and at the same time improve your health)

How to get the perfect nap (and at the same time improve your health)


Taking a 20-minute nap on a regular basis can reduce your chances of having a heart attack, according to a study.

The research, conducted by the Asklepieion General Hospital in Voula (Greece), also ensures that those minutes of rest help us to lower blood pressure.

The analysis focused mostly on older people, but the results suggest that we could all benefit from a little rest during the day.

“The nap is a habit that can be easily adopted and, in general, costs nothing,” says cardiologist Manolis Kallistratos, one of the authors of the research.

“According to our findings, if someone is lucky enough to be able to take a nap during the day, it can also lower blood pressure .”

Kallistratos confirmed with his study that a 20-minute nap meant an average fall of 5 mm Hg (the way doctors measure blood pressure). It is almost the same as getting a small dose of a medication that seeks to control it.

A student sleeping on her books.
Copyright of the GETTY IMAGES imageImage caption Experts believe that it is probably our ancestors’ responsibility for us to fall asleep in the afternoon, which imprinted that habit in our DNA.


With these data, we probably all should strive to sleep better naps.

Here are some factors that you have to keep in mind to get the perfect nap:

The when

The copious lunches are not the only culprits that you can feel more sleepy in the afternoon: it is programmed into our DNA .

“It actually happens because our warning signals that come from your internal body clock and that regulates both sleep and wakefulness decay,” says Dr. Guy Meadows, clinical director of The Sleep School to Newsbeat of the BBC

The expert believes that surely our ancestors already rested from the midday sun thousands of years ago and that these habits were “imprinted in our circadian rhythms.”

Woman taking a nap on the table.
Copyright of the GETTY IMAGES imageImage caption A study showed that sleeping a few minutes during the day improves the health of our heart.


Your circadian rhythm is the 24-hour body clock. 

“Your body is always on alert, in fight or flight mode, when we are at work or at school,” he says. “But when you take a nap, you do the opposite: you leave it in rest and digestion mode.”


But although this sounds very good, everyone is busy and has things to do. There is not much time in day to day to take a nap.

A nap is a good idea if you spend the day at home, but it is not so easy if you are at work or surrounded by people.

However, finding a quiet place , even if it’s just to rest for a while, may be better than you imagine.

” Sitting quietly with closed eyes can be really beneficial,” says the doctor.

Toilet cubicles
Copyright of the GETTY IMAGES imageImage caption Perhaps you can find a quiet corner in your work where at least you can close your eyes and rest for a few minutes.


“You can reserve a small meeting room in your office or a room and take a little nap there, or go to the bathroom 10 minutes and sit there quietly.”

When time permits, suggest going to the park and closing your eyes, but remember to set the alarm if you have to return to work.

“During a light sleep, we do not really know when we are asleep or not, it is important to see it as an opportunity to rest, ” says the expert.

“Even if you do not fall asleep, you get benefits.”

How much

A nap between 10 and 20 minutes is the perfect time to recharge the body for the afternoon, says the doctor.

“It’s about trying and finding what works for you,” he recommends.

The time you need for a nap is important, says Meadows, because one wants to feel renewed on waking, not confused.

Woman with mask waking up.
Copyright of the GETTY IMAGES imageImage caption During a nap it is not advisable to sleep too much, as we can wake up feeling confused and disoriented.


“Sleeping more than 20 minutes means that you sleep more deeply and that will make it harder for you to wake up and that, in doing so, you feel worse,” says the doctor.

For those who are starting in the world of napping, he suggests setting an alarm , but after several months with the same habit we should all be able to wake up once the minutes our body needs to rest in the middle of the afternoon have passed.

Coffee is not a substitute for sleep

To get to sleep the much desired and recommended eight hours of sleep, the doctor says we need to be awake for 16 hours . This is how the so-called “dream impulse” is born.

“When it’s 10 or 11 at night, you feel drowsy, it’s a hypnotic feeling , because your desire to sleep at that time is already very high,” he explains.

Cups of coffee.
Copyright of the GETTY IMAGES imageImage caption Coffee is not the remedy to keep you awake because its effect is artificial and short-term.


“Caffeine works in a different way, it affects parts of your brain where the chemicals responsible for sleep are produced and camouflaged for a while.”

Sure that drinking a strong coffee at specific times is a short-term solution, but you should know that part of the caffeine in the cup that you drink at midday is still in your system until 12 hours later.

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Rava Desk

Rava is an online news portal providing recent news, editorials, opinions and advice on day to day happenings in Pakistan.


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