Midday naps may reduce blood pressure (BP) levels in hypertensive patients, and those who nap may require fewer antihypertensive medications than those who do not nap, according to research presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2015.

Manolis Kallistratos, MD, PhD, from the Asklepieion Voula General Hospital in Athens, Greece, and colleagues, conducted a prospective study (n=386) to assess the effect of midday sleep on BP in middle aged patients with arterial hypertension by measuring midday sleep time (minutes), office BP, 24-hour ambulatory BP, pulse wave velocity, lifestyle habits, body mass index (BMI), and a complete echocardiographic evaluation. Other factors that could affect BP were accounted for, including age, gender, BMI, smoking status, salt, alcohol, exercise, and coffee.

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Researchers found that midday sleepers had 5% lower average 24-hour ambulatory systolic BP (6mmHg) compared to those patients who did not sleep midday. Their average systolic BP readings were 4% (5mmHg) lower when awake and 6% (7mmHg) lower while asleep at night than non-midday sleepers. Pulse wave velocity levels were 11% lower and left atrium diameter was 5% smaller in midday sleepers. The researchers also found that patients who took 60-minute midday naps had 4mmHg lower average 24-hour systolic BP readings and a 2% higher dip in their BP compared to those who did not take midday naps.

Study authors concluded that midday naps were associated with lower blood pressure with more benefits seen in longer sleep. Patients who took frequent midday naps were also taking fewer antihypertensive medications. Dr. Kallistratos noted, “Although the mean BP decrease seems low, it has to be mentioned that reductions as small as 2mmHg in systolic blood pressure can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events by up to 10%.”

For more information visit ESCardio.org.