The Science-Based Reason We Should All Be Taking Catnaps

Few simple pleasures are better than curling up in bed for a quality catnap. Whether you’re piled with blankets on a cold winter day or stretched out basking in the summer sun, snagging a few precious minutes of extra zzz’s is downright luxurious.

And thanks to new research, we can rest easy knowing that catnaps don’t just feel amazing; they actually have some stellar health benefits—particularly when it comes to your heart.

The study, presented yesterday at the American College of Cardiology, found that for every extra hour of sleep someone snags in the middle of the day, their blood pressure the next day goes down by 3 mm Hg. This is big news for those prone to heart disease since a consistent drop by just 2 mm Hg is enough to reduce the risk of having a heart attack by 10 percent.

Overall, the average systolic blood pressure of those who napped was 5.3 mm Hg lower than those who didn’t. This means that napping could be on par with other common heart disease treatments such as medication, more exercise, and less salt and alcohol.

“We obviously don’t want to encourage people to sleep for hours on end during the day, but on the other hand, they shouldn’t feel guilty if they can take a short nap, given the potential health benefits,” Manolis Kallistratos, M.D., a study co-author, wrote.

This is yet another reminder that sleep undoubtedly takes the cake as the best place to start when looking to improve your health. Poor sleeping patterns can lead to all kinds of problems like irritability, brain fog, and weight struggles. (Even just one night of rough sleep can throw your metabolism out of whack!)

If you have concerns about your heart health (and many of us do—almost a third of the American population has high blood pressure), giving yourself an extra hour of afternoon sleep may be something to explore. Happy napping!

By Elizabeth Gerson