Go ahead, take that midday snooze. In addition to boosting your mood and energy level, an afternoon nap can help also lower your blood pressure. In fact, napping has blood pressure benefits that are similar to other lifestyle changes, like cutting down on sodium or alcohol, according to the American College of Cardiology.
Researchers at Asklepieion General Hospital in Greece found that daytime naps were associated with an average 5 mm Hg drop in blood pressure, and every hour of midday sleep decreased systolic blood pressure (the top number) by 3 mm Hg over a 24-hour period. Their study involved 212 adults with reasonably-controlled blood pressure (average age 62 and average systolic blood pressure 129.9 mm Hg), divided into two groups: one that napped and one that didn’t. About one in four study participants were smokers or had type 2 diabetes.
The researchers tracked study participants’ blood pressure for 24 hours using ambulatory blood pressure monitors, recorded midday sleep, and assessed lifestyle factors like diet and physical activity levels. After adjusting for factors that affect blood pressure, they found that nappers had average blood pressure readings of 128.7/76.2 mm Hg, and non-nappers had average readings of 134.5/79.5 mm Hg.
High blood pressure (hypertension) affects nearly half of American adults, many of whom don’t know they have the condition. It’s often called a “silent killer” because it raises heart attack and stroke risk without causing symptoms.