A Short Nap May Lower Blood Pressure

The lazy days of summer are nearly upon us and what could be more delicious than an afternoon siesta under the shade of a tree or if you’re really fortunate, nearby the water at a weekend getaway.  And if you were wondering what to get dad for his special day, perhaps a hammock or zero gravity chair would be the perfect gift.  A recent study found that a short daily nap could help lower blood pressure, reducing the risk for a heart attack. 

According to a recent Medical News Today report, researchers from the Asklepieion General Hospital in Voula, Greece found that a mid-day nap can lower blood pressure as much as other lifestyle changes such as reducing alcohol and salt consumption.  The study followed 212 participants with an average age of 62; nearly 1 in 4 of them smoked or had type 2 diabetes or both.  Adjusting for other factors, the participants who napped daily experienced a drop in systolic blood pressure in the same range as taking low doses of drugs designed to lower blood pressure.  

Although a short nap has been found in recent studies to improve mood, alertness, memory and productivity, this is the first time researchers have studied the effect napping has on blood pressure.  Researchers suggest a short daily nap as a no cost, medication-free means of lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk for cardiovascular events in older age.  

Be sure to limit daytime napping to 10-20 minutes to avoid feeling groggy afterward or interfering with a good night’s sleep.  According to the Mayo Clinic, naps should be taken before 3 pm. and older adults should take their time before beginning tasks that require quick responses like driving.  

Enjoy that short afternoon snooze free from guilt, and when combined with regular exercise and a healthy Mediterranean diet, it could help lower the risk for heart attack and stroke. To learn more about the Greek study, follow this link to Science Daily’s report from the American College of Cardiology.