A nap in the day takes all the pressure away!

Young attractive woman sleeping on the couch at home, she was reading a book

IT seems that napping may do more than just reboot our energy level and improve our mood. New research found that people who took advantage of a midday snooze were more likely to have a noticeable drop in blood pressure, compared with those who didn’t.

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. Overall, taking a nap during the day was associated with a drop in blood pressure on a par with what would be expected from other, known, blood-pressure-lowering interventions.

These findings are important, because  even a small  drop in blood pressure can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack, by up to 10%. Napping can be easily adopted, and, typically, doesn’t cost anything.

This is the first study to assess midday sleep’s affect on blood-pressure levels among people whose blood pressure is reasonably controlled. The research team previously found midday naps to be associated with reduced blood-pressure levels, and fewer anti-hypertensive medications being prescribed among people with very high blood-pressure readings.

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, any significant differences in blood-pressure readings are likely due to napping.

The study included 212 people. They were 62 years old on average, and just over half were female. About a quarter of 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. At study recruitment, participants also underwent an echocardiogram, an ultrasound of the heart that shows its structure and function.

In their analyses, researchers adjusted for factors known to influence blood-pressure levels, including age, gender, lifestyle and medications. There were no differences in terms of the number of anti-hypertensive medications taken between the two groups, and pulse wave velocity tests and echocardiograms were also similar.

When looking at both blood-pressure numbers, people who slept during the day had more favourable readings. There also appeared to be a direct linear relationship between time asleep and blood pressure.

It isn’t recommended that people 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 at midday.

Researchers said the findings are further bolstered because patients had similar, dipping, blood-pressure rates at night (natural drops during night-time sleep), meaning that any reductions in ambulatory blood pressure were separate from this phenomenon, and give greater confidence that reductions in ambulatory blood pressure could be due to daytime napping.

Nearly half of American adults have high blood pressure. Many don’t know they have it because there are often no signs or symptoms; over time, high blood pressure increases the risk of both heart attacks and strokes.


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Posted by on Mar 22 2019. Filed under Health & Beauty. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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