Napping: something you either swear by, or swear against.
However, a new study may put an end to the debate by suggesting that nap advocates, and Spaniards, have been right all along.
According to research presented to the European Society of Cardiology annual conference in London, a midday nap is “associated with reduced blood pressure” and could reduce the risk of a heart attack.
The study assessed the effect of naps on blood pressure levels in 386 hypertensive patients (those with typically higher blood pressure) who had an average age of 61.4 years.
Researchers found that midday sleepers had a five per cent lower average daily blood pressure measurement compared to those who did not take a nap. When also studying the pulse and heart, the research found those who nap had less damage from high blood pressure in both their arteries and heart.
Researchers said throughout the study they accounted for other factors which could affect blood pressure, including age, gender, BMI, smoking, alcohol, exercise and coffee.
The research author Dr Manolis Kallistratos, a cardiologist at Asklepieion Voula General Hospital in Athens, highlighted that although the reduced blood pressure levels seem small, previous studies have shown even smaller levels have reduced “the risk of cardiovascular events”.
The study also found a link between how long the naps were and hypertension; with those who slept for an hour producing the healthiest blood pressure results.
Dr Kallistratos said: “Midday sleep is a habit that nowadays is almost a privilege due to a nine to five working culture and intense daily routine.”
“Our study shows that not only is midday sleep associated with lower blood pressure, but longer sleeps are even more beneficial."
“We found that midday sleep is associated with lower 24 hour blood pressure, an enhanced fall of blood pressure at night and less damage to the arteries and the heart. The longer the midday sleep, the lower the systolic blood pressure levels and probably fewer drugs [are] needed to lower blood pressure.”
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