An Afternoon Nap May Lower Your Blood Pressure

Don't feel guilty if you drift off on the sofa this afternoon as naps are proven to be beneficial for your health.

According to new research, a regular one-hour nap can lower blood pressure by almost the same amount as taking medication with the same goal or cutting down on salt and alcohol intake.

The study used 212 participants, all of whom had high blood pressure. Blood pressure monitors were attached to each participant, and their readings were taken throughout the day. Those who napped for one hour per day experienced an average drop of 3mm Hg in blood pressure, compared to those who did not nap.

"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. Midday sleep appears to lower blood pressure levels at the same magnitude as other lifestyle changes.." said Dr. Manolis Kallistratos, a cardiologist at Asklepieion General Hospital in Voula, Greece.

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.”