Anyone who has ever enjoyed a sneaky 20 minutes of shut eye in an armchair, on a sofa or on a train will understand the pure unadulterated joy that is napping.
Less committed than a full-on sleep, a nap is the perfect pick-me-up to be had when it’s not yet bedtime but your body is aching and you need a quiet half an hour to recharge.
Napping has got a bad reputation, associated with young children and old people, it’s not respected as the productivity tool it really is, and instead is disregarded at the past time of lazy people.
But no more! New research suggests that napping is actually good for you, which will be music to nap-lovers sleepy ears. The study, which included 212 people with an average age of 62, found that a nap had a similar effect to taking blood pressure pills, reducing salt or cutting down on drinking. Those in the study who took 60-minute naps were found to have an average drop of 3mm Hg in blood pressure.
‘Midday sleep appears to lower blood pressure levels at the same magnitude as other lifestyle changes’ said the study’s co-author Dr Manolis Kallistratos, who works at the Asklepieion General Hospital in Greece.
READ MORE: The Best Natural Anti-Depressants
Discover: Natural Anti Depressants
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential minerals which reduce inflammation and are vital to brain functions such as mood and memory. Your body doesn't produce them naturally so you can only get them in you via food (like fish, nuts and seeds) or dietary supplements.
In addition to bone health, Vitamin D can play a vital role in the areas of the brain that are linked to the development of depression and other mental health problems.
SAMe is a molecule that the body naturally forms and is available as a dietary supplement. In addition to depression and anxiety, it can be used for many other conditions including heart disease, fibromyalgia, tendonitis and many more. It is also recommended for PMS. It works by making sure that chemicals in the body that play a role in pain, depression, liver disease, and other conditions, actually do their job.
Like SAMe, 5-HTP is also a chemical (an essential amino acid) that the body makes naturally. It works by helping to raise the serotonin (the happy hormone) levels in the brain. 5-HTP has been known to have a positive effect on sleep, mood, anxiety, appetite, and pain.
A study conducted on whether the Rhodiola Rosea (Roseroot) herb was effective for depression showed that it was almost as effective as the popular antidepressant, Sertraline (Zoloft), but with fewer side effects. The herb boasts strengthening the nervous system, fighting depression, enhancing the immune system and memory, elevating stamina, aiding in weight-loss and increasing sexual function.
A lot of adults, especially women, suffer from iron deficiency, and guess what? Iron deficiency symptoms are pretty similar to depression symptoms, i.e. fatigue, irritability, and foggy brain. The recommended daily iron allowance in adults is roughly 8 to 18 mg daily (check with your doctor though because everyone's number is different).
If you don't have enough folate, antidepressants may not work. Some docs prescribe folate along with antidepressants to treat depression and improve the effectiveness the medication. Most adults need at least 0.4mg daily, which you can though food including dark leafy greens, beans and citrus fruit, or as a supplement.
Vitamin B-12 and other B vitamins can play a role in producing mood-affecting brain chemicals and low levels of these may be linked to depression. If you have a poor diet and the body can not absorb enough B vits, your mood can be severely affected. Getting a blood test will determine how much of the B goodness you have in your system, and whether you need to stock up. B vitamins are found in animal products like milk, fish, meat and eggs, so if you are a vegan, you should definitely be getting your B's from dietary supplements and vitamins.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid which you get through food such as bananas, tamarind, oats, sesame seeds, kiwi and watermelon. Once in the body, it converts to niacin, serotonin and melatonin. Most antidepressants work by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain and Tryptophan helps to increase serotonin levels without the extreme side effects of meds.
St John's Wort has been around for yonks and is one of the most popular natural methods used for dealing with stress, anxiety and depression. It's a plant with yellow flowers. There has been some scientific evidence that St. John's wort may be helpful in treating mild depression. It's been claimed that it works just like regular antidepressants in that it inhibits the reuptake of the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
‘For example, salt and alcohol reduction can bring blood pressure levels down by 3 to 5 mm Hg. Based on our findings, if someone has the luxury to take a nap during the day, it may also have benefits for high blood pressure. Napping can be easily adopted and typically doesn’t cost anything.’
So next time someone finds you napping in the middle of the day, just let them know that you’re looking after your heart health, and get right back to it.