Dr. Manolis Kallistratos, based in Athens, Greece, conducted a study on 386 middle-aged patients. The study was done to determine the benefits of the Spanish-style siesta. The goal of the study was to determine if sleeping at noon had any beneficial side effects.
The study included 200 men and 187 women. All of the participants had arterial hypertension with the average age of 61.4.
During the study, the team documented how long each participant slept and measured their blood pressure afterwards. Both diastolic and systolic blood pressure was measured, and 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure measurements were also taken. The team made sure to account for body mass index, gender, age, exercise, caffeine intake and dietary habits.
The heart’s left atrial was measured as well as pulse wave velocity, which is used to measure arterial stiffness.
Those that took a midday siesta, taking place at noon, demonstrated dramatic health benefits over those that did not take a nap. The group that did take a siesta had a pulse wave velocity that was 11% lower and a left atrium diameter that was 5% smaller on average.
Findings suggest that a midday nap reduces damage of high blood pressure in both the heart and arteries.
Blood pressure readings were also lower for the siesta-taking group. Ambulatory blood pressure was 5% lower and systolic blood pressure was 4% lower.
While the mean blood pressure decrease seems minimal, a reduction of just 2mmHg in systolic blood pressure can reduce major cardiovascular events by as much as 10%, states Dr. Kallistratos. The group that took siestas saw a reduction of 5mmHg.
The study also found that the longer the nap, the lower a person’s blood pressure was after they woke up. Participants also had to take less medication when they had longer siestas. All of the study’s findings were presented to the European Society of Cardiology Congress this past weekend.