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The findings showed that taking a nap during the day was associated with an average 5 mm Hg drop in blood pressure.
In addition, for every 60 minutes of mid-day sleep, 24-hour average systolic (top number) blood pressure decreased by 3 mm Hg.
"Mid-day sleep appears to lower blood pressure levels at the same magnitude as other lifestyle changes," said Manolis Kallistratos, cardiologist at the Asklepieion General Hospital in Voula in Greece.
"These findings are important because a drop in blood pressure as small as 2 mm Hg can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack by up to 10 per cent," said Kallistratos.
Moreover, people who slept during the day had more favourable blood pressure numbers readings (128.7/76.2 versus 134.5/79.5 mm Hg) compared with those who did not.
"We obviously don't want to encourage people to sleep for hours on end during the day, but on the other hand, they shouldn't feel guilty if they can take a short nap, given the potential health benefits," said Kallistratos.
The results will be presented at the American College of Cardiology's 68th Annual Scientific Session in New Orleans.
For the study, the team included 212 people aged 62 years on average with a mean blood pressure of 129.9 mm Hg.
Further research is needed to validate these findings, the team noted.
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