As we get older, we have to start thinking about ways to keep ourselves healthy and running in tip-top shape. For a lot of us, this means exercising more, eating better, and making regular check-ups part of our routine. There's a lot to love about aging, but the sudden on-set of sneaky health problems certainly isn't one of them! Suddenly we have to care about things like blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Takes a lot of the fun out of life, if we're being honest, but we need to be around for quite a long time. So it's worth it!
If you have high blood pressure, or have a family history of high blood pressure, it's probably something you worry about. Aside from making changes to your diet and possibly taking medication to control your BP, you might be wondering what else you can do to keep those numbers in a good place.
Well, we have some news you might like: a new study says that napping can actually help lower your blood pressure. Nap for your health, we can dig it!
The new research was presented at the American College of Cardiology's 68th Annual Scientific Session. The data shows that taking a midday nap every day can actually noticeably lower your blood pressure. In fact, according to Manolis Kallistratos, MD, cardiologist at the Asklepieion General Hospital in Voula, Greece, and one of the study's co-authors, a daily nap can have the same effect in your blood pressure as other lifestyle changes like cutting out salt and alcohol. The study included 212 people; the average age of participants was 62, and just over half were female.
Approximately 1 out of 4 participants were smokers and/or had Type 2 diabetes. The participants were divided into two groups: nappers and non-nappers. Researchers recorded the blood pressure of both groups for a consecutive 24 hours, and also recorded midday sleep time, lifestyle habits, and something called pulse wave velocity (a measure of stiffness in the arteries).
What they found was interesting. A midday nap taken everyday was associated with an average drop of 5 mm Hg in blood pressure. This kind of drop is actually on par with other interventions, like medication and lifestyle changes. Furthermore, for every hour of midday sleep, the 24-hour average systolic blood pressure dropped by 3 mm Hg.
It's really important to control your blood pressure, especially if you have a history of high blood pressure, hypertension, or heart disease. While there are lots of ways you can help keep that number in the safe zone, few are as relaxing as a nice midday snooze. So make some time to catch some zzzzz's, and stay heart healthy in the process.