New research suggests that afternoon naps can lead to lower blood pressure, but it is not the rest itself which confers health benefits.
Instead, it is the period just before sleep, after the lights go out, where the reduction in blood pressure occurs, according to the study entitled Acute Changes in Cardiovascular Function During the Onset Period of Daytime Sleep: Comparison to Lying Awake and Standing.
The researchers from Liverpool John Moores University found that standing for an hour or lying down, relaxed but without sleeping, had no effect on blood pressure.
In contrast, one hour of sleep - the 'siesta' favoured in many Mediterranean and Latin American countries - led to a significant drop in blood pressure.
In a recent study of 23,000 people in Greece, those who regularly took siestas had 37 per cent fewer incidents of coronary mortality compared to those who never napped.
The study can be viewed in the online edition of the Journal of Applied Physiology.
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