The Benefit of Taking Siestas Or A Nap…

November 2, 2007

We’re know how to take naps and siestas in the past… BUT this habit is becoming a rarity rather than a need with the changing times.  However, new studies have come up that in regions where naps continue to be practiced, the incidence of cardiac problems seem to be on a decline… and now a new study may give us the reason why. 

Siesta apparently is associated with lowering of BP and as a result it reduces the strain to the heart in an article published in Journal of Applied Physiology  October of 2007 issue. 

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The siesta habit is associated with a 37% reduction in coronary mortality, possibly because of reduced cardiovascular stress associated with daytime sleep.  Whether the most important behavior is the daytime nap itself, a supine posture, or the expectancy of a nap is unknown.

We present the first detailed description on healthy individuals of the acute changes in cardiovascular function during defined phases of the daytime sleep-onset period. These responses were compared with lying awake and standing.

Following a night of restricted (4 h) sleep, nine healthy participants (aged 34 ± 5 yr) were allowed to sleep at 1400 for up to 1 h. Polysomnography was used to calculate three phases of daytime sleep onset: phase 1, a baseline period of relaxed wakefulness before lights out; phase 2, the period between lights out and onset of stage 1 sleep; and phase 3, the period between onsets of stages 1 and 2 sleep.

Differences (means ± SD) in blood pressure, heart rate, and forearm cutaneous vascular conductance (CVC) between phases were analyzed. During the 9.7 ± 13.8 min of phase 2, systolic and diastolic blood pressure was 4.7 ± 4.5 and 3.6 ± 2.8 mmHg lower than baseline, whereas CVC was 9.5 ± 4.3% higher than baseline (P < 0.05). Subsequent changes in cardiovascular function during the sleep itself were trivial (P > 0.05). The above changes were not observed when subjects stood or laid supine in relaxed wakefulness for 1 h (P > 0.05).

Our findings suggest that the period between lights out and sleep onset is associated with the largest acute reduction in blood pressure during one afternoon siesta.

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Now we know why siestas make us feel good and “healthier”.  In fact studies have shown that this blood pressure reduction may actually be the reason why there is lower coronary mortality rates in Mediterranean and Latin American populations where siestas are common… the effect of naps on the heart!

Simple take home message from this study: 

  1. Take time to rest and a nap…if you can have it in between breaks…go for it. 
  2. Sleep is likewise important… now it shows that sleep debt is unhealthy and dangerous!

Life is too short not to enjoy it BUT make sure you get enough rest and sleep to enjoy the beauty of life to live longer!

Siestas Equate To Better Health! 

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One Response to “The Benefit of Taking Siestas Or A Nap…”

  1. Arnold Mathew Says:

    I say siesta is very essential in every one’s life. Cardiovascular research has shown reduction in blood pressure reduces the risk of incidence of coronary artery disease and also most of the cardiac related problems


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