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Midday naps have been found to help lower blood pressure

A new study from the American College of Cardiology has revealed that napping may be more important to our health than what was previously realized. The experts discovered that individuals who took a nap in the middle of the day experienced a significant drop in blood pressure compared with those who did not take a nap.

Study co-author Dr. Manolis Kallistratos is a cardiologist at the Asklepieion General Hospital in Voula, Greece.

“Midday sleep appears to lower blood pressure levels at the same magnitude as other lifestyle changes. For example, salt and alcohol reduction can bring blood pressure levels down by 3 to 5 mm Hg.” Dr. Kallistratos explained that a low-dose antihypertensive medication usually lowers blood pressure levels by an average of 5 to 7 mm Hg.

The study revealed that taking a nap during the day was associated with an average 5 mm Hg drop in blood pressure. According to the researchers, this is the equivalent of what would be expected from other treatments to lower blood pressure. In addition, for every 60 minutes of midday sleep, 24-hour systolic blood pressure decreased by 3 mm Hg.

“These findings are important because a drop in blood pressure as small as 2 mm Hg can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack by up to 10 percent,” said Dr. Kallistratos. “Based on our findings, if someone has the luxury to take a nap during the day, it may also have benefits for high blood pressure. Napping can be easily adopted and typically doesn’t cost anything.”

The research is the first of its kind to examine the potential effect of midday sleep on blood pressure levels among people whose blood pressure is reasonably controlled.

“The higher the blood pressure levels, the more pronounced any effort to lower it will appear. By including people with relatively well-controlled blood pressure, we can feel more confident that any significant differences in blood pressure readings are likely due to napping,” said Dr. Kallistratos.

“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. Even though both groups were receiving the same number of medications and blood pressure was well controlled, there was still a significant decrease in blood pressure among those who slept during midday.”

The research was presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 68th Annual Scientific Session.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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