It seems that napping may do more than just reboot our energy level and improve our mood. New research found that people who took advantage of a midday snooze were more likely to have a noticeable drop in blood pressure compared with those who didn’t nap.
Overall, taking a nap during the day was associated with a drop in blood pressure that’s on par with what would be expected from other known blood pressure-lowering interventions, such as lowering salt and alcohol intake or even some blood pressure medications. The study’s authors say the findings are important because even a small drop in blood pressure can reduce the chance of heart attack significantly.
This is the first study to prospectively assess midday sleep’s affect on blood pressure levels among people whose blood pressure is reasonably controlled, according to the researchers. The same research team previously found midday naps to be associated with reduced blood pressure levels and fewer antihypertensive medications being prescribed among people with very high blood pressure readings.
Researchers said the findings are further bolstered because patients had similar dipping blood pressure rates at night (natural drops during nighttime sleep), meaning that any reductions in ambulatory blood pressure were separate from this phenomenon and give greater confidence that reductions in ambulatory blood pressure could be due to daytime napping.
“We obviously don’t want to encourage people to sleep for hours on end during the day, but on the other hand, they shouldn’t feel guilty if they can take a short nap, given the potential health benefits,” said Manolis Kallistratos, MD, cardiologist at the Asklepieion General Hospital in Voula, Greece, and one of the study’s co-authors..
Further research is needed to validate these findings. Although it falls outside the scope of this study, researchers said one could speculate that along with the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet endemic to this region, the cultural acceptance of midday napping may also play a role in the healthier profile seen in these populations.
Nearly half of American adults have high blood pressure. Many don’t know they have it because there are often no signs or symptoms; over time, high blood pressure increases the risk of both heart attack and stroke.