A Midday Nap Could Be Good For You

It is common to put small children down for a nap in the middle of the day.  It makes sense, of course, because infants and toddlers grow at a faster rate than adults; and growth is exhausting.  So naps are a normal part of life for small children. 

But apparently, a midday nap is also a pretty good idea for adults too.  In a new study, Greek scientists have concluded that regular a simple hour-long nap, taken regularly throughout the week, can actually be effective at helping to lower blood pressure.  And, of course, since hypertension is often a preliminary risk factor for other, even more serious, health conditions (like heart disease and stroke) any way to reduce that risk is certainly good news. 

Indeed, study co-author Manolis Kallistratos comments, “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.”

This measurement is important because it is in line with what practitioners would normally expect from medically standard blood pressure interventions.  Perhaps even more important, taking a single 60-minute everyday (in the middle of the day) could actually contribute to a 3 mm Hg reduction in average 24-hour systolic blood pressure. 

Kallistratos further explains that a simple drop of blood pressure in even as small an amount as 2 mm Hg can reduce the likelihood for more significant cardiovascular event—like heart attack—by as much as 10 percent.  He adds, “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, we can feel more confident that any significant differences in blood pressure readings are likely due to napping.” 

Thus, he says, based on these findings, just about everyone should look to take advantage of a midday nap.  After all, it is an easy thing to do—if you can manage it around your work day—and, most importantly, it costs nothing! 

The results of this study were presented and discussed at the American College of Cardiology 68th Annual Scientific Session.