In the United States, taking an afternoon nap is typically a habit reserved for children. However, a new study finds that napping in the middle of the day has positive health outcomes for adults. The study found that middle-aged adults who napped during midday had reduced blood pressure. Napping could be a way for adults to limit stress, medication use, and the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The research team investigated how midday naps affected patients known to have high blood pressure. Three-hundred and eighty-six middle-aged men and women with an average age of 61.4 years who had arterial hypertension took part in the study. The researchers measured the patients’ midday sleep duration, office blood pressure, 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure, lifestyle habits, and body mass index (BMI). The patients also went through a complete echocardiographic evaluation. The researchers analyzed the data, adjusting for factors like age, gender, BMI, and the consumption of substances that affect blood pressure.
Patients who napped in the afternoon exhibited reduced blood pressure, compared to those who did not nap. The group of midday sleepers demonstrated five percent lower (6 mmHg) average 24-hour ambulatory systolic blood pressure. The midday sleepers also had four percent lower (5 mmHg) systolic blood pressure when awake and six percent lower (7 mmHg) systolic pressure when sleeping at night.
“Our study shows that not only is midday sleep associated with lower blood pressure, but longer sleeps are even more beneficial. Midday sleepers had greater dips in blood pressure while sleeping at night, which is associated with better health outcomes. We also found that hypertensive patients who slept at noon were under fewer antihypertensive medications compared to those who didn’t sleep midday,” Dr. Manolis Kallistratos, cardiologist at Asklepieion Voula General Hospital in Athens, Greece, summarized the results of the study.
The reduction in blood pressure may appear small, but a decrease of 2 mmHg in systolic blood pressure “can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events by up to 10 percent,” explains Dr. Kallistratos. The results indicate that a shift to daytime napping could greatly improve public health.
This research was presented at European Society of Cardiology Congress.
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