In a new study, researchers found that taking a nap every day may help manage high blood pressure.
The finding shows that napping may provide health benefits more than just improving our energy level and mood.
In the study, a team from the Asklepieion General Hospital in Voula in Greece found that people who took a midday nap had a bigger drop in blood pressure than people who did not take a nap.
They examined 212 people with a mean blood pressure of 129.9 mm Hg.
The people were 62 years old on average and just over half were female. About 25% of the participants were smokers and/or had type 2 diabetes.
The researchers assessed and recorded blood pressure for 24 hours consecutively, midday sleep time, lifestyle habits, and stiffness in the arteries.
All of the participants wore an ambulatory blood pressure monitor to measure and track blood pressure during routine daily living.
The team found that overall taking a nap during the day was linked to an average 5 mm Hg drop in blood pressure.
This is quite a strong reduction because usually, a low-dose blood pressure drug lowers blood pressure levels by 5 to 7 mm Hg.
The napping effect on blood pressure may be stronger than other lifestyle interventions. For example, salt and alcohol reduction can bring blood pressure levels down by 3 to 5 mm Hg.
The researchers suggest that the findings are important because a drop in blood pressure as small as 2 mm Hg can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by up to 10%.
Napping can be easily done and typically doesn’t cost anything.
Future work needs to confirm the findings and see if a midday nap combined with a healthy diet (e.g., the DASH diet) could control high blood pressure better.
One author of the study is Manolis Kallistratos, MD.
The study was presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 68th Annual Conference.
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