Not only is napping a great way for you to recharge during the day, it may also help improve your blood pressure. Recent research shows that folks who catch a few zzz's during the afternoon are more likely to have a noticeable drop in blood pressure than people who don't nap. Meanwhile, we seriously can't think of a better excuse to sneak in a midday snooze.
The March 2019 study divided 212 people into either a napping group or a non-napping group. Researchers recorded all the participants' blood pressure for 24 hours consecutively and assessed their midday sleep times and other lifestyle habits — including hypertension risk factors such as alcohol and salt consumption. The findings, which were presented at the American College of Cardiology's 68th Annual Scientific Session, ultimately showed that daytime naps were linked with an average 5 mm Hg drop in blood pressure. While that may seem like a small amount at first, researchers explained why it's more significant than you might think.
"Midday sleep appears to lower blood pressure levels at the same magnitude as other lifestyle changes," said study co-author Manolis Kallistratos, MD, in a press release. "For example, salt and alcohol reduction can bring blood pressure levels down by 3 to 5 mm Hg."
It's even more impressive when you consider the fact that many low-dose anti-hypertensive medications typically lower blood pressure levels by about 5 to 7 mm Hg on average.
"These findings are important because a drop in blood pressure as small as 2 mm Hg can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack by up to 10 percent," Dr. Kallistratos said. "Based on our findings, if someone has the luxury to take a nap during the day, it may also have benefits for high blood pressure. Napping can be easily adopted and typically doesn't cost anything."
So, the next time someone gives you a tough time for napping, you can just smile — and rest easy — knowing that science is on your side. Sweet dreams, indeed!