If you have high blood pressure, taking a nap a day may help you as much as recommended lifestyle changes like reducing your salt intake…

People who nap are more likely to have a noticeable drop in blood pressure compared with those who don’t nap.

This is according to new research being presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 68th Annual Scientific Session.

“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 three to five mm Hg,” says Manolis Kallistratos, MD, cardiologist at the Asklepieion General Hospital in Voula, Greece, and one of the study’s co-authors.

She adds that a low-dose antihypertensive medication usually lowers blood pressure levels by five to seven mm Hg, on average.

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High blood pressure diet could be as effective as medication

How an afternoon nap affects blood pressure

Overall, taking a nap during the day was associated with an average of five mm Hg drop in blood pressure.

Researchers say this is par with what would be expected from other known blood pressure-lowering interventions.

In addition, for every 60 minutes of midday sleep, 24-hour average systolic blood pressure decreased by three mm Hg.

Taking a nap during the day was associated with an average of five mm Hg drop in blood pressure. A drop in blood pressure as small as two mm Hg can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack by up to 10 percent

Napping could be life-saving

“These findings are important because a drop in blood pressure as small as two mm Hg can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack by up to 10 percent,” says 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.”

Over 200 people studied

The study included 212 people with a mean blood pressure of 129.9 mm Hg. They were 62 years old on average and just over half were female.

About one out of four participants were smokers and/or had Type 2 diabetes. The groups were similar in terms of risk factors for heart disease except there were more smokers in the napping group.

Researchers assessed and recorded blood pressure for 24 hours consecutively, midday sleep time (the average duration was 49 minutes), lifestyle habits (for example, alcohol, coffee and salt consumption, physical activity levels), and pulse wave velocity, a measure of stiffness in the arteries.

Participants wore an ambulatory blood pressure monitor to measure and track blood pressure at regular intervals during routine daily living, rather than just one time in the clinic.

Overall, average 24-hour systolic blood pressure was 5.3 mm Hg lower among those who napped compared with those who didn’t (127.6 mm Hg vs 132.9 mm Hg). When looking at both blood pressure numbers, people who slept during the day had more favourable readings (128.7/76.2 vs 134.5/79.5 mm Hg). There also appeared to be a direct linear relationship between time asleep and blood pressure; as reported, for each hour of napping, the average 24-hour systolic blood pressure lowered by 3 mm Hg.

“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,” says Kallistratos. “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.”

Source: American College of Cardiology via www.sciencedaily.com

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