Recent research findings have shown clearly that a short sleep taken during the day can be reinvigorating as well as putting you in a good frame of mind. A new study has discovered that an evident drop in blood pressure was more obvious in people who took advantage of a siesta in contrast to those who did not.

“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,” said Manolis Kallistratos, MD, cardiologist at the Asklepieion General Hospital in Voula, Greece, and one of the study’s co-authors. He added that a low-dose anti-hypertensive medication would normally on average lower blood pressure levels by 5 to 7 mm Hg.

Generally, having a siesta was linked with an average 5 mm Hg drop in blood pressure, which research scientists said is on the same performance levels with those of other recognised blood pressure-lowering interventions. Also, for every 60 minutes of napping, 24-hour average systolic blood pressure came down by 3 mm Hg.

“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,” 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.”

The study team says this research happens to be the first to examine the potentials of the effects of mid-day sleep on blood pressure levels among people whose blood pressure is reasonably controlled. The same team of researchers had before now found siestas to be associated with lowered blood pressure levels and fewer antihypertensive medicines being prescribed among people with very high blood pressure readings.

“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,” Kallistratos said.

212 people were involved in the research with a mean blood pressure of 129.9 mm Hg. Just a little more than half were female, and they all averaged around 62 years in age. Roughly 1 out of 4 of the participants was a smoker and/or had Type 2 diabetes. The groups had something in common regarding risk factors for heart disease if not that there were more people who smoked in the group that napped. Researchers evaluated and documented blood pressure for 24 hours uninterruptedly, siesta time which averaged a duration of 49 minutes, lifestyle habits (for instance, alcohol, coffee and salt intake, physical activity levels), in addition to pulse wave velocity – a measure of stiffness in the arteries.

Partakers in the study put on an ambulatory blood pressure monitor which regularly took measures and tracked blood pressure at intervals throughout normal daily living, instead of just once in the clinic. While recruiting participants for the study, they were as well made to go through an echocardiogram, an ultrasound of the heart that reveals its structure and function.

The study team in their analyses made adjustments for factors which usually influence blood pressure levels such as – age, gender, lifestyle and medications. There were no differences pertaining to the number of antihypertensive medicines used between the two groups, and pulse wave velocity tests and echocardiograms also appeared the same.

Generally, average 24-hour systolic blood pressure turned out to be 5.3 mm Hg lower among people who took siesta in contrast to those who did not (127.6 mm Hg vs 132.9 mm Hg). When both blood pressure numbers were viewed, people who took siesta had more encouraging readings (128.7/76.2 vs 134.5/79.5 mm Hg). There also tended to be a direct linear connection between time used for napping and blood pressure; it turned out to be that, for each hour of mid-day sleep, the average 24-hour systolic blood pressure came down by 3 mm Hg.

“We obviously don’t want to encourage people to sleep for hours on end during the day, but on the other hand, they shouldn’t feel guilty if they can take a short nap, given the potential health benefits,” Kallistratos said. “Even though both groups were receiving the same number of medications and blood pressure was well controlled, there was still a significant decrease in blood pressure among those who slept during midday.”

The scientists reported that the discoveries are more encouraged owing to the fact that patients had blood pressure rates coming down in like manner as is to be expected – during night sleep. This implied according to the experts that any decreases in ambulatory blood pressure were completely distinct from this outstanding occurrence; it thereby provides a boost to the assurance that decreases in ambulatory blood pressure could be as a result of having siesta.

Experts point out however, that more studies will be required to authenticate these discoveries. Even though it falls outside the scope of this research, the scientists stated that it is possible to hazard a guess that is in consonance with the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet that is common with the region, the traditional habit of taking siesta is as well likely to play a part in the better health profile that has been associated with the people.

Experts say in many other climes many adults have high blood pressure without really knowing it just because there are often no signs or symptoms. In a matter of time, high blood pressure heightens the risk of both heart attack as well as stroke.

On March 18, 2019 Kallistratos presented the study, “Mid-day Sleep Effects as Potent as Recommended Lifestyle Changes in Patients with Arterial Hypertension.”

By Morgan Nwanguma

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