New research revealed at the European Society of Cardiology conference in London, England(1) has shown that a regular mid-day nap may help lower blood pressure and decrease your risk of heart attacks.
The research, done by scientists in Athens, Greece, found that those who take regular siestas in the afternoon had a slightly lower blood pressure reading than people who don’t nap. Although the differences are modest – between four and six percent – researchers stress that any reduction in blood pressure can help prevent heart attacks and strokes by up to ten percent.
Researchers presenting this new evidence cited examples of famous world leaders who were known for taking regular mid-day naps, like Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher.
Winston Churchill was quoted saying that nature had not meant for man to work all day “without that refreshment of blessed oblivion” during the afternoon.
There have been multiple studies done examining the effects of regular napping on blood pressure and by extension the risk of heart attack and stroke.
One 1994 study in the American Journal of Hypertension found that not only does our blood pressure drop significantly when we’re napping, but the decline is similar to the decline in blood pressure that we experience when we sleep at night.
“The marked decline in blood pressure during daytime sleep suggests that sleep itself, rather than an endogenous circadian rhythm, is responsible for the blood pressure dip observed during both daytime sleep and nighttime sleep,” the researchers wrote(2), cautioning that “Ignoring actual sleeping time in people who sleep during the day may greatly distort the day-night ambulatory blood pressure difference.”
In addition, the study also lead researchers to suggest that midday sleepers experience less damage from high blood pressure in their arteries and heart.
According to the DailyMail, the researchers were quoted saying:
“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.”