Warning: a nap after lunch could be fatal

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The Independent Online
A NAP after lunch may be bad for the health. Doctors have discovered that people who indulge in a siesta have much higher death rates than those who sleep once a day. The conclusion, published in Archives of Internal Medicine, follows a study of nearly 500 pensioners over a six-year period.

Doctors have known for some time that heart attacks and strokes are most common around the morning waking hours when there is an increase in blood pressure and heart rate as the body gets back into gear. New research has shown there is a decline in blood pressure during the siesta that is the same as that which occurs during normal night-time sleep. So it probably puts the same kind of stresses and strains on the cardiovascular system.

The research team from Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem recruited 450 people aged about 70 and compared those who had siestas with those who did not. The death rate among siesta-takers was 20 per cent, compared with 11 per cent among the others.

The doctors say the results are surprising. "The siesta is a time-honoured Mediterranean practice and generally regarded as beneficial.''