Among hurried Americans, the idea of taking time out for a siesta can seem like a luxury. The newest research disagrees. It seems that taking time out for an afternoon catnap can actually prolong your life.

Researchers examined over 23,000 men and women and found that those who enjoyed regular siestas lasting at least a half an hour three times a week reduced their risk of dying from heart disease by 37%. For men in the work force, the benefits were even greater, reducing their risk by 64%.

The researchers suggest that an afternoon snooze reduces stress, a major contributor to coronary disease. The results were so profound that Prof. Trichopoulos of the Harvard School of Public Health was quoted as saying “The public health message is clear – if you can take midday nap, do so.”

The idea is spreading world wide. The health minister of France has proposed that siestas become official government policy and Japanese businesses have installed “sleep salons” designed to give employees afternoon naps.

It may just be time to follow the advice of Winston Churchill who said:

You must sleep sometime between lunch and dinner…. No half measures.”

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