After Tuesday’s discussion, you might think the easiest way to ward off stroke risk is to take a high-quality fish oil supplement. And it’s true—getting the right amount of EPA/DHA every day is pretty simple to do.
But what if I said you could ward off strokes while you sleep? Well, if you have the luxury of time for a midday nap, then this research is for you…
Forget salt restriction—sleep instead
This new study was recently presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 68th Annual Scientific Session. It featured just over 200 Greek subjects, with an average age of 62 and an average systolic blood pressure of 129.9 mmHg.
Researchers assessed a number of data points:
- 24-hour blood pressure and arterial stiffness
- Mid-day sleep times
- Lifestyle habits (like exercise routines and caffeine, alcohol, and salt consumption)
- Heart function (based on echocardiogram results)
Factors that might impact blood pressure—like age, gender, medications, and lifestyle — were all accounted for. And heart function and arterial stiffness were similar among all subjects. Which makes the outcome of this study that much more compelling.
Average systolic blood pressure was a full 5.3 mmHg lower among nappers—127.6 mmHg vs. 132.9 mmHg, which is enough to dodge an official hypertension diagnosis nowadays. People who napped during the day also had better overall blood pressure numbers—128.7/76.2 mmHG on average, vs. 134.5/79.5 mmHg.
In other words, a daily nap could be more effective than standard recommendations like salt restriction—and quite possibly as impactful as low-dose drug treatment—for lowering blood pressure.
And since it only takes a 2 mmHg drop to slash cardiovascular risk by as much as 10 percent, it goes without saying that it’s time well spent. With a couple caveats, of course.
A healthy siesta is a balancing act
Let me remind you of a study I shared a couple of years ago, which showed that excessive daytime fatigue and longer naps can drastically increase your risk of metabolic syndrome.
In this particular study, the relationship between napping and metabolic risk was “J-shaped.” This means that subjects who napped fewer than 40 minutes suffered no increased health risks. But when naps lasted longer than 40 minutes, metabolic risk began a sharp upswing.
In fact, subjects who routinely clocked 90-minute naps saw their risk of metabolic syndrome rise by as much as 50 percent.
Earlier research from the same team revealed similar results. In that study, researchers found that napping longer than one hour raises the risk of heart disease by more than 80 percent. And increased the risk of death by any cause by nearly 30 percent.
Likewise, other data demonstrated that naps lasting longer than one hour raises the risk of diabetes by 46 percent. But the good news is that 30-minute naps delivered benefits across the board. So clearly, what we’re looking at here is a balancing act.
If you want to get the most perks from a Mediterranean-style siesta, I suggest keeping it between 30 minutes to one hour, tops. And never rely on naps as a substitute for a good night’s sleep. As always, I recommend getting 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep—every single night.
P.S. If you’re struggling with lowering your blood pressure—and don’t want to resort to harmful drugs that come with a whole host of dangerous side effects — I’ve developed an all-natural plan to prevent and reverse America’s biggest killers: High blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. It’s called my Ultimate Heart-Protection Protocol. Click here to learn more about this online learning tool, or sign up today.
“A nap a day keeps high blood pressure at bay: Catching some midday shut-eye linked to similar drops in blood pressure seen with other lifestyle changes, some medications.” Science Daily, March 7, 2019. (sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190307081029.htm)