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Just Anticipating a Nap May Be Good for the Heart
Date:11/2/2007

Expectation produced small drops in blood pressure, but more study needed, researchers say

FRIDAY, Nov. 2 (HealthDay News) -- A nap a day may keep the heart doctor away -- at least that's what recent research suggests. Now, a new British study reports that the first few minutes before you doze off might be an especially restful time for your heart.

Blood pressure dropped during those minutes but not when the study participants simply rested or stood for an hour, according to the study. But a co-author of the study cautioned that the findings shouldn't be enough to send anybody off for a midday snooze.

"Any extrapolation of the study results to the benefits of napping is a bridge too far," said physiologist Greg Atkinson of the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences at Liverpool John Moores University in the United Kingdom.

Midday naps may boost heart health, at least according to a recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine that was the first to consider the influence of other factors like diet and exercise on the heart. Researchers looked at health records of 23,681 people in Greece and found those who napped at least three times a week for a half hour or more had a 37 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease, compared with people who didn't nap.

While less extensive studies have not supported napping as good for the heart, people in Mediterranean and Latin American countries where siestas are popular do have lower rates of heart disease, the study authors noted.

For the new study, the researchers recruited nine healthy volunteers -- eight men and one woman -- who didn't routinely take afternoon naps. They went to a sleep laboratory on three afternoons after sleeping just four hours the night before.

At the lab, the volunteers did something different each afternoon. During one afternoon, they spent an hour resting, but not sleeping, in bed. On another
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