“Circadian rhythm is the daily rhythm in our bodies, and probably the most well-known is that of waking and sleeping,” said Dr. Daniel Rudic, a vascular biologist at Augusta University’s Medical College of Georgia.
Sleep is when our body’s organs are supposed to get at least a bit of a break — with blood pressure decreasing. Rudic’s research shows, however, that a low-salt diet may actually prevent that pressure dip in people who have sleep disorders or other circadian rhythm problems.
“Our data suggests that low salt does what it should do in a normal mouse: it lowers blood pressure. But when we fed a low-salt diet to a mouse that had a circadian dysfunction, basically a sleep disorder, low sodium actually causes this non-dipping blood pressure and vascular disease,” Rudic said.
The exact causes of this reaction aren’t completely understood and need more study, but the take-home message is that some patients may benefit from a 24-hour blood pressure check, Rudic said.
And — for those of us salt lovers out there — it’s important to note that Rudic says his study doesn’t mean most of us should abandon a low-sodium diet.