An afternoon nap is just as effective as taking a pill to lower blood pressure, new research suggests.
Scientists found those who enjoyed a midday snooze were more likely to experience a drop in blood pressure compared to adults who stayed awake.
American Heart Association guidance states normal systolic blood pressure readings should be less than 120 mm Hg and normal diastolic blood pressure readings should be less than 80 mm Hg — meaning blood pressure numbers of less than 120/80 mm Hg are considered within the ideal range.
In a trial involving 212 people with an average age of 62, Greek researchers found a daily 49-minute nap slashed their systolic blood pressure readings by 5mm Hg.
Researchers said this is a similar drop to what patients experience after taking a low-dose blood pressure pill.
“Midday sleep appears to lower blood pressure levels at the same magnitude as other lifestyle changes. 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, “ said lead study researcher Dr Manolis Kallistratos from Asklepieion General Hospital.
“Napping can be easily adopted and typically doesn’t cost anything. Sleep is vital for our wellbeing.”
The findings are due to be presented at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session in New Orleans later this month.
But Sonya Babu-Narayan, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said patients should consider other lifestyle changes first.
“Getting enough sleep is important for both our general wellbeing and our heart and circulatory health, but there’s good evidence to show healthy lifestyle choices, such as cutting down on your salt and alcohol intake, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly, are the best ways to help us keep our blood pressure low,” she said.
“As tempting as it might sound to swap all of these measures for a daily siesta, making healthy lifestyle choices remains the key to preventing heart attacks and strokes, along with taking medication where recommended.”
High blood pressure is known as the silent killer because signs often go unnoticed until it is too late.
It is the single biggest trigger of heart disease and stroke.
Source: New York Post