A quick afternoon nap can boost your energy levels, but a recent study says that it can lower your blood pressure too.
A busy work schedule from the morning can tempt you into shutting your eyes after a heavy afternoon meal. A quick afternoon nap is refreshing and boosts our energy to work harder for the rest of the day but how many of you know that a mid-day nap is not just a relaxing ritual but it also has health benefits?
According to Science Daily, a new study from the American College of Cardiology suggests that a quick mid-day nap can effectively lower your blood pressure level.
"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 3 to 5 mm Hg [millimeters of mercury]," said researcher Dr. Kallistratos, according to Science Daily.
According to medical guidelines, if the blood pressure reading of systolic blood pressure (pressure during a heartbeat) is 140 mm Hg or higher and the diastolic blood pressure (pressure between heartbeats) are 90 mm Hg or higher, then the person has high blood pressure.
The study involved 212 participants of an average age of 62 years among which one in four smoked and/or had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The participants were split into two groups based on their habit of taking a nap or not. The groups were similar in terms of risk factors for heart disease except there were more smokers in the napping group.
The blood pressure measurements, midday nap duration, lifestyle choices and pulse wave velocity of the participants were observed by the researchers for 24 hours. The participants were also asked to wear blood pressure monitoring devices for accurate pressure measurements.
To avoid any inaccuracies, the researchers also looked at factors that could affect blood pressure such as age, sex, medication and lifestyle choices. They also made sure that the participants reasonably controlled their blood pressure levels to ensure credible results.
At the end of the studies, researchers observed a 5.3 mm Hg drop in systolic blood pressure in people who took a daytime nap. This drop in pressure levels was found to be equal to what would be observed in a person who took medications for high blood pressure.
"Even though both groups [of participants] 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," said Dr. Kallistratos.
The researchers also added that additional napping for 60 minutes can reduce the average 24-hour systolic blood pressure by 3mm Hg.
"These findings are important because a drop in blood pressure as small as 2 mm Hg can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack, by up to 10 percent," says Dr. Kallistratos, according to Science Daily. He also added that people suffering from high blood pressure should include mid-day naps in their life as it is easily adaptable and cost-effective.
Though the researchers call in for further studies in the field, they are confident about the results obtained from the conducted tests. "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, according to Science Daily. However, he adds that people shouldn't sleep off their days because of the research.
Moral of the story is, please nap more. They are good for you. Especially in trying pandemic times like this when all the bad news gives many of us anxiety, having a steady blood pressure is a good thing. Also, a nap helps kill time. So why not?