No matter your age, naps can be a wonderful thing. They can help you retain all the information you crammed into your brain for your calculus final. They can help you counteract impulsive behavior and ease frustration. Now, new research shows that a midday snooze can also help lower blood pressure and prevent a future heart attack.
During their presentation at the European Society of Cardiology’s annual conference in London, researchers from Asklepieion Voula General Hospital in Athens shared their findings of a study they conducted that involved 200 men and 186 women; participants were an average age of 61, had high blood pressure, and some took regular naps. They found that those who napped had lower blood pressure than those who didn’t - and the nappers’ blood pressure was lower after they awoke and during their nighttime sleep. Though the difference may not seem like much (about five percent), the researchers believe that the impact naps have on rates of heart attack is significant. The researchers also stated that a longer nap (up to an hour) displayed the best results.
“Midday sleep is a habit that nowadays is almost a privilege due to a nine to five working culture and intense daily routine,” lead researcher Dr. Manolis Kallistratos said in a press release. Kallistratos stated that most working people found it hard to nap during the day, even if there is research that shows allowing employees to nap during the day can boost productivity.
The research found that the nappers had four percent lower average systolic blood pressure than those who didn’t nap when they were awake, in addition to six percent lower when they slept at night. They also found that those who saw a significant drop in blood pressure at night were getting an average of 17 minutes more midday sleep than those whose levels remained the same.
It wasn’t just blood pressure that showed up lower for nappers than non-nappers. Nappers had pulse-wave velocity - a measure of arterial stiffness, or the rate at which pressure waves move down the vessel - 11 percent lower than non-nappers, while their left atrium diameters were smaller as well.
“These findings suggest that midday sleepers have less damage from high blood pressure in their arteries and heart,” Kallistratos said.
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows when it comes to midday naps, however. People who take more day-time naps are more likely to die younger, research has shown, while napping as you get older can age your brain, making it more susceptible to dementia. Good thing we have everything you need to know on how to nap during the day like a pro, here.
Source: Kallistratos, M. Midday naps associated with reduced blood pressure and fewer medications. European Society of Cardiology Congress. 2015.