One of the easiest ways to lower your blood pressure is to simply take an afternoon nap.
When we talk about making lifestyle changes to lower your high blood pressure, we usually think of stopping smoking, cutting back on alcohol or changing our diet and starting an exercise routine.
Those are simple, but not alway easy things for you to do.
But napping IS both simple and easy, as long as you have time and space to do it during the day.
Research Studies Prove that Napping Lowers Blood Pressure
Researchers at the Asklepieion Hospital in Greece found that napping regularly can have as much positive effect on lowering your blood pressure as taking blood pressure medications.
The researchers took 212 participants who were an average of 62 years old.
The participants were experiencing high blood pressure and close to one in four of them smoked, had a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, or both.
The researchers split the participants into two groups and placed blood pressure monitors on each individual for 24 hours.
One group napped and the other group didn’t.
The findings were impressive.
The researchers found that people who took a daytime nap saw an average 5 point drop in their systolic blood pressure.
In fact, the researchers found that for each additional hour of napping, the average systolic blood pressure of the participants lowered by 3 points.
And when you compare that to taking a low-dose blood pressure drug, which can lower your systolic blood pressure level by an average of 5-7 points, napping looks like a great alternative.
These findings are important because studies have shown that a drop in blood pressure as small as 2 points can reduce the risk of heart problems, such as heart attack, by up to 10 percent.
The researchers of the study suggested that you shouldn’t lay around and sleep all day, but that a 30 minute or so nap could be very beneficial for lowering your blood pressure.
How Often Should You Nap?
In another study done for 5 years, the results showed that napping two or three times in a week is best for your heart health.
In the 5 year study, those who took naps 2 or 3 times a week, had a lower rate of heart related medical events.
The research mentioned that if you nap every day, it could be a sign that you’re not getting enough sleep during the night or that you might have an underlying medical problem.
What Time of Day Should You Nap?
Sleep studies have shown that your body tends to get sleepy two times during the day because of it’s natural sleep cycles and rhythms.
The first time is in the afternoon, and the second is right before bedtime.
And you don’t need a research study to know that, most people, after they eat a meal in the afternoon, get a little drowsy for a while.
The drowsiness is caused by your food digesting and your natural sleep cycle.
When your body is digesting a meal, some of your blood is diverted from all parts of your body to the stomach and digestive tract, to help digest the food.
This leaves less blood for the rest of the body and can cause some people to feel a bit drowsy or tired.
So the best time to nap in the afternoon is after you eat lunch around 12PM or 2PM.
When you take a short nap after you eat, it allows you to get your nap in and it helps you to be more focused and productive the rest of the afternoon.
But I would suggest not to take a nap after 4PM in the afternoon.
If you go to sleep later than 4PM, you run the risk of not being able to get to sleep at night or sleep well throughout the night.
So again, try to take your nap somewhere between 12PM and 2PM and never after 4PM.
How Long Should You Nap?
The best nap time length should be around 30 minutes.
There’s 5 stages of sleeping.
Stage 1 transitions your body to sleeping and lasts about 5-10 minutes.
Stage 2 is when your heart rate begins to slow down and this stage lasts for about 20 minutes.
Stage 3 is when you go into a deep sleep and can last up to 40 minutes.
Your blood pressure and breathing drops to its lowest at stage 3.
Step 4 is the deepest sleep state and lasts for about 30 minutes.
And Stage 5 is the stage when you have your dreams.
In Stage 5 you have a lot of brain activity going on and your blood pressure rises.
Of all 5 stages of sleep, the hardest to wake up from is stage 3.
Waking up in stage 3 can make you feel groggy and cranky, in some cases, for up to an hour after you wake up.
So a good quality nap should take you to stage 2 and you should wake up right before you enter stage 3, which is right about the 30 minute mark.
What If You Work Shift Work In the Evenings?
That’s a good question.
If you work shift work on a regular basis then your body has a normal sleeping pattern, it’s just shifted later in the day.
So a good rule of thumb is to not take a nap after more than 14 hours, after you wake up after your job shift.
So for instance, if you go to work at 12AM for the midnight shift and you wake up at 11PM to get ready for your shift, then you do not want to take a nap after 12PM the next day.
I hope that makes sense.
Are there Any Added Benefits to Taking a Nap?
If you are a physically and mentally active individual, you will definitely benefit from naps.
These power naps, as they’re called in the corporate world, improve your attention span, your memory, your focus and your overall physical and mental performance.
Taking naps can also improve your mood and your energy level for the rest of the day.
When you wake up from a short nap, you feel refreshed.
I personally take a short nap several days a week.
I used to try to fight through my sleepiness after lunch, but eventually, I just gave in and went with it.
So now, several days a week, about 30 minutes after I eat, I’ll get sleepy and so I’ll put my feet up on my desk, kick back in my chair, put my blinders on and take a short nap.
I get back up, wash my face and my focus comes right back and I’m ready to be productive.
And I also get the added benefit that it lowers my overall blood pressure.
What are Some Practical Tips for Napping?
My first tip is to use some good eye shades.
Eye shades put your eyesight in a totally dark environment, which helps you to go to sleep faster.
My second tip is to get in a comfortable position.
I sleep right at my desk by putting my legs up on my desk and lean back my chair.
If you’re at home, lean back on your couch or jump in bed.
Heck, you can even find a quiet corner of the room, put a pillow down on the floor and lay down.
Whatever you can get away with.
My third tip is to set an alarm before you nod off so that you wake up at the right time.
You don’t want to oversleep, especially if you’re working.
My fourth tip is, if there’s a lot of noise where you work, get a pair of noise cancelling headphones or earplugs to lower the noise level around you.
The less noise you hear, the less distraction you’ll have and the faster you’ll go to sleep.
My fifth tip is after you wake up, go wash your face.
It’ll help you wake up faster and get back to focusing on what you were doing.
You might even want to brush your teeth.
Brushing your teeth will make your mouth feel fresh and help you to resume your focus.
So in this video we talked about how effective taking a nap can be for lowering your blood pressure.
I take naps myself, several days a week, so I highly recommend it.
Some of you may not be in places or situations where you can take a nap.
I totally understand that.
But if you are, it’s a great healthy habit for your blood pressure and your overall health.