Earlier this week I warned you that making a habit of sleeping late can harm your health.
Well, if you intend to heed my advice but you’re already mourning your weekend lie-ins I have some great news. A way you can sneak in a little extra snooze time that actually BENEFITS your health.
It turns out if you’re a senior battling high blood pressure, taking a nap could help.
In fact, according to a new study, napping may work as well as diet changes.
But even MORE impressive, researchers say an afternoon snooze could reduce your blood pressure as well as a hypertension drug.
That’s right, sneaking in 40 winks could actually take the place of drugs in some cases. And if you’re anything like me, you’re thinking, “Sign me up!”
Here’s how they figured it out…
Dump the drugs and try napping instead
It turns out this wasn’t even the first time scientists have found naps can act as potent “medicine” for lowering blood pressure.
In an earlier study, volunteer nappers with VERY high blood pressure benefited from the nap routine.
The folks who took midday snoozes saw BIG improvements in their blood pressure levels. In fact, the improvements were so impressive they ended up needing LESS hypertension drugs.
But this time around, the team wanted to know if napping would work on folks whose blood pressure was under better control to begin with.
That way they felt they could be more confident that any big changes they saw in BP levels really were because of the naps.
And, well, it worked.
Stop hypertension with a midday snooze
The team recruited 212 folks. They were all around the age of 62 and had an average blood pressure of 129.9 mm Hg, or mild hypertension.
One out of four of the participants were smokers or had diabetes (or both). And their risk factors for heart disease were similar.
In other words, they were everyday Joes, a lot like the rest of us.
The researchers tracked their blood pressure for 24 hours. And they checked the volunteer’s pulse wave velocity, a test that measures how stiff your arteries are.
Plus, they factored in few other variables which might have an effect on blood pressure, including…
- length of naps (average of 49 minutes)
- how much salt, coffee, and alcohol they were eating
- physical activity levels
And the team was even careful to adjust all the data for things that could throw their findings off such as the gender, age, and lifestyles of the participants. As well as any medications they were taking.
And once again, napping turned out to be a blood-pressure-correcting superstar.
40 winks for better blood pressure
Overall blood pressure levels in the nappers were down 3 to 5 points on average. Which, of course, if you have mild hypertension could easily put you smack dab into the normal zone.
Heck, with those kinds of corrections you may even be able to toss your BP drugs into the trash. Just be sure to get a thumbs up from your doc first, of course.
If you’re battling high blood pressure, go ahead and embrace guilt-free napping. In fact, you may even want to try making it a part of your REGULAR routine.
And while you don’t want to start sleeping your days away, there’s no need to confine every nap to just 20 minutes. The researchers found for each hour of napping, the average 24-hour systolic blood pressure dropped by 3 mm Hg.