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Mid-day Napping Could Save Your Life: Short Naps Can Lower Blood Pressure

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A good night's sleep, about eight hours of it, will definitely get you going the following day. Add a short afternoon nap, and you just might save your life from cardiovascular disease.

Latest study found an association between mid-day naps and a lower risk of high blood pressure and heart attack.

Findings of this new study, which analyzed data from hundreds of hypertensive patients, were presented in London at the annual conference of the European Society of Cardiology.

For their research, scientists looked at 386 hypertensive patients. At 61.4 years average, the participants had "typically higher" blood pressures. The researchers measured each participant's mid-day sleep in minutes, office blood pressure, 24-hour and ambulatory blood pressure, pulse wave velocity, body mass index, lifestyle, along with a complete echocardiographic assessment which included size of the left atrium. The measurements of their blood pressures were reported as systolic and diastolic. The researchers also considered factors that could contribute to increasing blood pressures, such as age and gender, alcohol and smoking, coffee and exercise.

The study revealed that patients who took mid-day naps had a reduced 24-hour ambulatory systolic blood pressure by five percent, compared with those who did not sleep mid-day. While mid-day sleepers were awake, their systolic blood pressure was found to be lower by 4 percent and 6 percent while they were asleep at night.

According to Dr. Manolis Kallistratos, a cardiologist from Asklepieion Voula General Hospital in Athens, and author of the study, noted that rates of lower blood pressures are small. However, there have also been previous studies where even lower rates of reduced blood pressure also revealed the reduced risk of cardiovascular events.

In addition, the researchers found that the longer the participants took a nap, the lower the risk was for cardiovascular events. A one-hour nap, for example, led to better results, showing lower blood pressures in patients.

Kallistratos highlighted the importance of mid-day sleep to healthier blood pressure results, and the benefits of even longer sleeps.

"We found that mid-day sleep is associated with lower 24 hour blood pressure, an enhanced fall of BP at night, and less damage to the arteries and the heart. The longer the mid-day sleep, the lower the systolic BP levels and probably fewer drugs [are] needed to lower BP," the cardiologist said.

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