Tag Archives: blood pressure

Taking a Healthy Catnap

It was reported last week by American researchers that napping can help lower your blood pressure and generally improve the health of your heart. The effects of a nap were even more significant for those who did not get enough night-time sleep.

An African Wild Cat Takes a Quick Nap

Other research carried out in Greece also found that the participants who took at least three, half hour catnaps per week were found to have a 37% lowered risk of suffering a heart related death.  Research from the University of California, Berkeley found that participants taking a 90 minute nap during the day performed better in a mental test than those who did not. In fact, it was found that this 90 minute nap helped repair and store short-term memories, while increasing the brain’s ability to absorb new information. It seems that after the nap your brain is ready to receive and process additional data more readily.

However, is there an art to cat-napping?

How long should I catnap?

6 Minutes: A 2008 German study found that this is enough time to start processing short-term memories to help clear “space” for new information.

20 Minutes: With a twenty minute power nap you go through the first 2 stages of the sleep cycle. When you wake up you will see an improvement in your alertness, concentration and mood level. In fact, even if you don’t fall asleep during this twenty minutes, your relaxed state of mind will still prove to be beneficial.

40 Minutes: A 40 minute nap will provide big benefits if you didn’t get a good nights sleep. This will put you into the REM sleep stage where the brain undergoes a clearing-out and sorting process. Sleep therapist, Dr Narina Ramlakhan at the Capio Nightingale Hospital in London says that “Evidence shows that napping for this amount of time is also enough to rebalance the immune system and pep up energy levels.”

90+ Minutes: Obviously, most people don’t have the time to take a 90+ minute nap during the day. Sleeping for between 90-180 minutes will take you through all the sleep stages and will also result in bodily repairs.

When should I catnap?

This will depend on your sleeping pattern. Typically, your body will release higher levels of melatonin between 1pm-3pm with a peak during the night when you sleep. Melatonin is a hormone that helps relax the body ready for a state of sleep.

If you go to bed early and wake up early then a good time to cat-nap would be around 1pm. Alternatively, if you are a night-owl and tend to go to sleep after midnight then a nap around 2:30pm would be preferable.

For more information check out the Daily Mail.

Do you want to live a long life?

A recent study has found that living a long life is more down to your lifestyle than your genes. This puts your personal life expectancy very much on your own shoulders. The experts noted that people who live healthy lifestyles in their 50’s are much more likely to live to 90 than those who are not so careful. Therefore, it does not completely follow that if your relatives have lived a long life then you will also enjoy this luxury.

While your genes will play an important part in your susceptibility to certain illness or conditions the study found that lifestyle played a far more significant role. The study was conducted by a group of researchers from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden and looked at 800 men who were born in 1913. The researchers then took detailed medical checks and questionnaires every 10 years to understand how the individual lived. The checks looked at whether the individual smoked, their diets, exercise routine, wage and standard of living.

MyPyramid - Steps to a Healthier You. (United States Department of Agriculture)

Out of the original 800 participants there were 111 who lived to the age of 90. It was found that once the participant had reached 50 then there was no noticeable correlation between when their parents died and when they would end up dying. The research, published in the Journal of Internal Medicine, found that those at 50 years old who did not smoke, lived in better houses, had lower blood pressures and only drank moderate amounts of coffee were more likely to live to 90 years old.

Lead researcher, Professor emeritus Lars Wilhelmsen, said: “We’re breaking new ground here. The study clearly shows that we can influence several of the factors that decide how old we get. This is positive not only for the individual but also for society as it doesn’t entail any major drug costs.”

Other studies have found similar results and have led to some believing that there are 4 factors that will significantly effect how long you live. These factors are: diet, psycho-spiritual, social and exercise. If we can live fulfilled, contented and rounded lifestyles then we greatly increase our chance of hitting the big 100!