Blood pressure too high? Sleep on it

Blood pressure too high? Sleep on it

Here’s a prescription for lowering your blood pressure that many of us would love to fill: Take a midday nap.

Researchers in Greece say a little siesta appears to be just as effective in reducing blood pressure as lifestyle changes like reducing your salt or alcohol consumption. In a study presented to the American College of Cardiology, the researchers say study participants who napped 49 minutes a day lowered their systolic blood pressure by an average of 5 millimeters compared with those who didn’t nap.

That’s about the same impact as a low-dose anti-hypertension medication, which can reduce systolic pressure 5 to 7 millimeters.

This trial involved 212 people with an average age of 62. All wore portable blood pressure monitors during the day and entered the study with reasonably well-controlled blood pressure.

The findings were significant. Researchers pointed out that even a 2 millimeter drop in blood pressure can reduce the risk of a cardiovascular event like a heart attack by 10 percent. Guidelines by the American Heart Association say ideal blood pressure is less than 120 over 80.

Some cardiologists warn against anyone getting the idea they can skip the tried-and-true methods of maintaining a healthy blood pressure by simply taking a midday snooze. A lifestyle that includes regular exercise and a healthy diet are still the best methods of keeping your blood pressure in check.

The Greek researchers note they do not want to encourage people to sleep for hours on end during the day. But if someone wants to take a little nap, they say, the health benefits suggest they shouldn’t feel guilty about it, either.

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