Many studies have shown that exercise or diet control may prove to be an effective way to control high blood pressure. But a recent study revealed, and quite interestingly so, that a midday nap might just be what you need to keep it under check. The study also found that it might help a great deal in boosting your energy levels.
The study was conducted by researchers 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 [millimeters of mercury (mmHg)],” Dr. Manolis Kallistratos, one of the researchers of the study revealed.
To conduct the study, the researchers worked with 212 participants who had a mean blood pressure of 129.9 mm Hg. As per Medical News, “According to guidelines from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, a person has high blood pressure if their readings of systolic blood pressure (pressure during a heartbeat) are 140 mm Hg or higher, and their readings of diastolic blood pressure (pressure between heartbeats) are 90 mm Hg or higher. The participants were, on average, 62 years old, and close to one in four of them smoked, had a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, or both.”
The participants were divided into two groups — one, in which the participants took a midday nap and one, in which they did not. Researchers observed the participants over 24 hours and took note of their “blood pressure measurements, the duration of their midday naps, their general lifestyle choices (such as alcohol consumption and physical activity), and their pulse wave velocity, which measures artery stiffness.”
Other factors such as age, biological sex, prescription medication, and lifestyle choices, which could affect blood pressure, were also adjusted for.
It was found that “people who took a daytime nap saw a 5.3 mm Hg drop in systolic blood pressure, which, the researchers explain, is about as much as someone could expect when taking blood pressure medication or making certain lifestyle changes to lower blood pressure.”
Moreover, it was seen that an additional 60 minutes of nap time during midday was found to reduce average 24-hour systolic blood pressure by 3 mm Hg. Dr. Kallistratos explained, as per the same report that “taking low doses of specialized drugs can lower a person’s blood pressure levels by about 5–7 mm Hg on average.”
“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,” says the researcher.
“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,” he adds.
“We obviously don’t want to encourage people to sleep for hours on end during the day,” continues Dr. Kallistratos, “but, on the other hand, they shouldn’t feel guilty if they can take a short nap, given the potential health benefits.”