Okay, you just finished up a nice lunch and it’s time to get back to work. But your eyelids won’t cooperate. They feel like they are rapidly speeding towards South America and the only things that can save you are some paperclips to prop them open.

We seem to always hear how Americans should follow the example of much of the world and take a nice, little snooze after lunch, but the war of the “sleepys” is one we are told we must win.

But, perhaps we should rethink that stubbornness — no matter what the boss says.

A new study from the European Society of Cardiology says that nap is a heart healthy behavior. Researchers followed close to 400 people and found that those who napped each day averaged blood pressure reading quite a bit lower compared to non-nappers.

What’s quite a bit? About 7 points lower for the top number, and 4 points lower for the bottom. And other research shows that for each 2 point drop in blood pressure, the risk of heart disease drops up to 10 percent. (People wore 24 hour blood pressure monitors to keep track of things.)

Other tests showed the nappers also had less hardening of the arteries and more flexible blood vessels.

Dr. Dave Hnida gets a nap in on the couch (credit: Dr. Dave Hnida)

Dr. Dave Hnida gets a nap in on the couch (credit: Dr. Dave Hnida)

So how much shuteye do you need?

According to the study — the more the better. People who nodded for close to an hour had the best pressures. However, I doubt your boss or workplace would be jumping for joy as you snore away a chunk of your workday.

Nonetheless, maybe even a little is better than none.

So as you think about the health advice we’re always throwing your way: lay off the salt, lose the extra poundage, stub out that smoke — perhaps there’s one more piece of advice we should put in the heart healthy shopping cart: saw a little wood each afternoon. It’ll do your heart good (and may make you an even more productive worker — a great argument to use on your supervisor.)

Now the researchers admit they can’t prove a direct cause and effect of a nap and your heart, but the evidence is compelling.

And who in their right mind would ever doubt a study like this? Not me. And I will even give you a doctor’s note if you need one.

Dr. Dave Hnida is CBS4’s Medical Editor. He blogs about the latest studies and trends in the health world. Read his latest blog entries, check out his bio or follow him on Twitter @drdavehnida That is, if he is not busy taking a nap …


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