Yes the siesta popular across the Mediterranean and Southern Europe really is good for your health too According to research a nap can help reduce blood pressure and help prevent a heart attack.
Having a mid-day doze is always nice and often revitalising but it may also reduce your blood pressure and stave off a heart attack.
Some recent research was presented at the European Society of Cardiology which involved nearly 400 middle-aged man and women. It found that those who had a snooze around mid-day had lower blood pressure later on than those who remained awake throughout the day. The research found their blood pressure was lower both when awake and later when asleep at night.
The difference in blood pressure was about 5% which although small was enough to have a significant impact on heart attack rates according to the researchers as smaller reductions have been shown to reduce the chance of cardiovascular events by 10 %.
The research was carried out by Asklepieion Voula General Hospital in Athens. The researchers studied 200 men and 186 women over 60 who had high blood pressure and some of whom had a regular snooze around noon.
They discovered that those who had a nap at lunchtime had an average blood pressure measurement 5% lower than those who didn’t.
The best results were seen by those who have a longer nap of up to an hour.
The lead researcher was cardiologist Dr Manolis Kallistratos who suggested modern lifestyles can be fast-paced and we should be mindful of lessons in the past.
“Two influential UK Prime Ministers were supporters of the midday nap. Winston Churchill said that we must sleep sometime between lunch and dinner while Margaret Thatcher didn’t want to be disturbed at around 3:00 pm,” he said.
“According to our study they were right because midday naps seem to lower blood pressure levels and may probably also decrease the number of required antihypertensive medications.”
He acknowledged that most working people found it difficult to take a nap during the day.
“Μidday sleep is a habit that nowadays is almost a privileged due to a nine to five working culture and intense daily routine” he said.
The findings revealed that overall, the average blood pressure readings of the regular nappers were 4% lower than the non-nappers when they were awake (5 mmHg) and 6% lower while they slept at night (7 mmHg).
When hearts are healthy, Blood pressure should drop when sleeping at night if your heart is healthy.
The researchers found that those who saw a significant drop in pressure when sleeping, had on average 17 minutes more mid-day sleep than those for whom findings remained constant.
There were some other benefits among the regular nappers. They had pulse wave velocity levels 11% lower than those who stayed awake, while their left atrium diameters, which expand as you get older, were smaller.
“These findings suggest that midday sleepers have less damage from high blood pressure in their arteries and heart,” said Dr Kallistratos.
The researchers who conducted the study did factor in things which can influence blood pressure such as age, gender, smoking, alcohol, weight, salt, exercise etc.
Dr Kallistratos said: “Our study shows that not only is midday sleep associated with lower blood pressure, but longer sleeps are even more beneficial.
“Midday sleepers had greater dips in blood pressure while sleeping at night which is associated with better health outcomes.
“We also found that hypertensive patients who slept at noon were under fewer antihypertensive medications compared to those who didn’t sleep midday.”
Blood pressure is often referred to as the hidden killer as it cannot really be felt and doesn’t show itself with symptoms outwardly and many people may not even know it is high if they are not checking.
If you are concerned about high blood pressure or just wish to know what your blood pressure is your local pharmacy is a good place to start. You can pop in without an appointment and most offer a blood pressure service.
You can also buy blood pressure monitors either in-store or at supermarket beating prices from our online shop.