In a new study, researchers found a nap a day may keep high blood pressure at bay.
They suggest daily napping may do much more than just boost our energy and improve our mood.
The research was conducted by a team in the Asklepieion General Hospital, Greece.
Currently, about half of American adults have high blood pressure. But many don’t know they have it because there are no signs or symptoms of high blood pressure.
Previous studies have shown that midday naps are linked to lower blood pressure levels and less need for blood pressure drugs in people with severe high blood pressure.
In the current study, the team focused on the effect of midday naps on the health of people with normal blood pressure.
They examined 212 people with a mean blood pressure of 129.9 mm Hg. These people were 62 years old on average.
The researchers assessed and recorded blood pressure for 24 hours consecutively, midday sleep time, lifestyle habits, and stiffness in the arteries of the participants.
They found that people who took a nap in the middle of the day were more likely to have a blood pressure reduction compared with those who didn’t nap.
In fact, midday nap seems to lower blood pressure at the same magnitude as other lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet, doing exercise, and having good nights’ sleep.
According to the researchers, reducing the intake of salt and alcohol can lower blood pressure levels by 3 to 5 mm Hg. Medications could lower blood pressure levels by 5 to 7 mm Hg.
The current finding showed that taking a nap in midday is linked to an average 5 mm Hg drop in blood pressure.
Additionally, for every 60 minutes of a midday nap, the 24-hour average systolic blood pressure decreased by 3 mm Hg.
The researchers suggest that it seems that a midday nap could help lower blood pressure as effectively as other known blood pressure-lowering interventions.
The finding is very important because lowering blood pressure a bit can strongly reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
For example, the previous study has shown that a drop in blood pressure as small as 2 mm Hg can decrease the risk of heart attack by up to 10%.
It is a good option for people with high risks of high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. Napping can be easily adopted and typically doesn’t cost anything.
The study is the first that prospectively assesses midday nap’s effect on blood pressure levels in healthy people.
One author of the study is Manolis Kallistratos, MD, a cardiologist at the Asklepieion General Hospital in Voula, Greece.
The study was presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 68th Annual Scientific Session.
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