An afternoon siesta may be not only a custom in many countries, it may be a healthy habit as well.
A new study from Greece found that midday naps may lower blood pressure in patients with arterial hypertension (high blood pressure in the arteries).
"According to our study … midday naps seem to lower blood pressure levels and may probably also decrease the number of required antihypertensive medications," said lead study author Manolis Kallistratos, MD, PhD, a cardiologist at Asklepieion Voula General Hospital in Athens, Greece.
Dr. Kallistratos and team looked at 386 adult men and women with an average age of 61 who had arterial hypertension.
These researchers measured the patients' blood pressure over a 24-hour period and collected data on midday sleep time.
Body mass index (BMI) and lifestyle habits were also accounted for. BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight.
On average, the blood pressure of midday nappers was 5 percent lower than the blood pressure of non-nappers.
Midday nappers were also less likely to have damage to their hearts from high blood pressure.
"Our study shows that not only is midday sleep associated with lower blood pressure, but longer sleeps are even more beneficial," Dr. Kallistratos said. "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."
Dr. Kallistratos presented this study Aug. 29 at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2015. Research presented at conferences may not have been peer-reviewed.
No funding sources or conflicts of interest were disclosed.