There’s nothing like a good nap in the middle of the day to get us through the rest of it. Now, new research has confirmed that there actually are numerous health benefits to naps.
A new study found that there is a strong correlation between taking a one hour nap and having lower blood pressure.
“Midday sleep appears to lower blood pressure levels at the same magnitude as other lifestyle changes,” explained Dr. Manolis Kallistratos, a cardiologist at Asklepieion General Hospital in Voula, Greece. He added that taking a nap is just as effective at lowering blood pressure as reducing your salt intake is.
The experts found that systolic blood pressure, which is the “top number” in a blood pressure reading that displays the force of your blood pushing against your arteries when your heart beats, goes down an average of three mm Hg for every hour that someone spends napping. To put this in perspective, taking a pill to lower your blood pressure brings it down an average of five to seven mm Hg, while taking a nap will decrease it an average of five mm Hg.
“These findings are important because a drop in blood pressure as small as two mm Hg can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack by up to ten percent,” Kallistratos added.
In carrying out the study, the researchers looked at 212 people with an average age of 62 and an average systolic pressure of about 130 mm Hg. On top of that, one fourth of the people in the study smoked and/or had type 2 diabetes. The researchers compared the blood pressure levels of those who took one hour naps in the middle of the day with those who did not.
They ended up finding that those who did not nap had an average systolic blood pressure level more than five mm Hg higher than those who did. While these findings were encouraging to those who love to nap, the researchers were quick to say that this does not mean that they should be napping for hours on end.
“We obviously don’t want to encourage people to 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,” said Kallistratos.
Napping can have many other benefits to your health as well like reducing stress level. If you’ve been having trouble with your blood pressure or anxiety, you might want to try penciling in a one hour nap for yourself!