The Effects of a Siesta on the Cardiovascular System

Introduction: Siesta is a word of Spanish origin and indicates a short rest period during the day, especially at noon or in the early afternoon. It is a common traditional habit among people living around the Mediterranean Sea and those in Latin America. The ideal length of siesta is 20-30 min and depends on the geographical location of each country, the season, demographic factors (gender, age) and history of disease. It can be distinguished in the planned, emergency and the habitual napping. Aim: The purpose of this review was to evaluate the effects of siesta on the cardiovascular system. Method: A literature review was undertaken in Medline and Google Scholar databases, for the period 1988 until 2012, using the follow key-words: “siesta”, “midday napping”, “daytime sleepiness”, “mortality”, “coronary heart disease”, “cardiovascular diseases” and combinations of them. Specific evaluation criteria for inclusion of retrieved articles in the review, were used. Results: The final number of the studies included in the literature review was 21.. The examination of the studies’ findings showed that the midday rest is beneficial for the brain (improves learning ability, memory, intelligence, and offers rejuvenation), giving strength to fulfill successfully all daily activities. Apart from its beneficial effects in cognitive and learning level, there is also data concerning the relation of cardiovascular function and siesta. It has been shown that 30 minutes of sleep or rest during the day, is associated with reduced risk of nonfatal acute coronary events by 21%. Also, people who regularly rest at midday, had 37% less risk to get coronary heart disease. However, with people that surpass the recommended duration of siesta, there were observed changes in blood pressure and pulse rate. Furthermore, patients with history of heart disease (such as myocardial infarction) tended to rest often in the afternoon. A sudden increase in heart rate appears when the duration of siesta was repeatedly surpassed and when the third stage of the sleep occurs. Cardiovascular events happen because of the activation of pro-thrombotic mechanisms. Conclusions: The effects of midday rest on the cardiovascular system may be beneficial, but it can also be negative. However, knowledge on this subject is limited and requires further investigation to identify precisely the benefits and dangers of the cardiovascular system that siesta involves.

Category: Volume 52, N 3
Hits: 19 Hits
Created Date: 15-09-2013
Authors: Savvato Karavasiliadou