As if we needed more evidence showing that taking a nap in the middle of the day is a great idea, a new European study says that a daily midday nap could actually help lower your blood pressure.
The study, presented at the 2015 conference of the European Society of Cardiology, was conducted by researchers at Asklepieion Voula General Hospital in Athens. The subjects in the study were 386 hypertensive patients with an average age of just over 61 years old. The study only focused on people with hypertension, as they typically have higher blood pressure levels.
Accounting for factors that could affect blood pressure, such as age, gender, and smoking or alcohol consumption, researchers found that the average daily blood pressure measurement of those study participants who took a midday nap was 5% lower than participants who did not take a nap. In addition, midday sleepers were found to have less damage to their hearts and arteries as a result of high blood pressure. The length of their naps also had an effect. Participants who slept for a full hour recorded the healthiest blood pressure measurements.
While a 5% decrease in blood pressure levels may seem insignificant, Dr. Manolis Kallistratos, the lead author of the study, is quick to emphasize that previous studies have shown that even a very small reduction in blood pressure can have an impact in lowering an individual’s risk of heart attack or other cardiovascular events. Other benefits to lowering one’s blood pressure through napping could potentially include a decreased reliance on drugs to control high blood pressure.
Dr. Kallistratos acknowledged that, due to our widespread 9-to-5 culture and overscheduled lives, midday naps are a luxury that may simply be impossible for most working people. In those cases, other effective techniques to lower one’s blood pressure include reducing salt intake, increasing physical activity level, and avoiding tobacco smoke.