Did you know taking a short daytime nap can have a beneficial effect on your overall health? Not only it makes you refreshed and energized, but taking a short nap in the afternoon has been found to provide cardiovascular benefits.
According to Manolis Kallistratos, MD, a cardiologist at Asklepieion General Hospital in Voula, Greece, lifestyle changes are the key to treating hypertension.
Kallistratos and his team studied the effects of napping on blood pressure and discovered that napping lowered blood pressure levels and reduced the need for blood pressure medications in those with severe hypertension.
The aim of the most recent study, presented at the American College of Cardiology 2019 meeting in New Orleans on March 18, was to find whether or not the effects remain the same in those whose blood pressure is controllable.
The study was done on 212 adults with an average age of 62 and systolic pressure of 129.9 mmHg. They had a blood pressure monitor attached for 24 hours, and the ones in the first group took a daytime nap during this period and the ones in the second group didn’t.
Factors like age, smoking status, salt intake, coffee intake, alcohol intake, physical activity, and medications were controlled, and it was found that those who took a nap had systolic blood pressure that was 5.3 mmHg lower, on average.
All the participants experienced a very similar drop in blood pressure levels while sleeping at night, meaning that these effects have nothing to do with any differences in nighttime sleep. Both groups were similar regarding heart disease risk factors, with an exception of those who smoked in the napping group.
Kallistratos concluded that a drop in blood pressure of 2 millimeters of mercury [mmHg] can lower the risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular events for up to 10%.
These findings are very promising! Kallistratos also notes that lifestyle changes like reducing salt or alcohol intake lower blood pressure by 3 to 5 mmHg, and a low-dose drug for hypertension decreases levels by 5 to 7 mmHg.
These researchers are the first ones to explore the effects of daytime napping on blood pressure. They encourage other researchers to replicate the results, believing that their study is indeed important and promising.
As explained by Kallistratos and his team, they tried to recruit study participants with controlled blood pressure levels in order to make sure that their findings are valid and credible.
It is important to mention that Kallistratos claims that the higher the blood pressure levels, the higher reduction will appear. Involving people with reasonably controlled blood pressure made them believe that napping would be the underlying cause of significant differences in blood pressure readings.
Ultimately, Kallistratos explains that his study`s findings are not supposed to encourage people to sleep for long periods of time daily. We don’t want to tell people to be lazy,” says Kallistratos. “But if a person gets the sense of needing to sleep during the day for 45 minutes to an hour, it’s okay.”