Siesta? A panacea against the heat that is also good for the brain (but only if it lasts a short time)

Siesta?  A panacea against the heat that is also good for the brain (but only if it lasts a short time)

The summer heat promotes the desire to sleep during the day. On such a topical issue in this period of record temperatures, the Italian Society of Neurology (Sin) disseminates the results of important scientific studies that demonstrate the benefits of the siesta. Last summer a Northwestern University study published in 'Current biology' he had indicated that temperatures above 25 degrees easily lead to a siesta because there is a brain thermometer that regulates the body's metabolism according to the external temperatures.

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by Aureliano Stingi

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"With global warming these temperatures have now been abundantly exceeded - he says Alfredo Berardellipresident of Sin - but, according to a study just published by the Universities of Montevideo and London and the Center for Genomic Medicine in Boston and the Broad Institute in Cambridge, there is a genetic predisposition to siesta which at the same time seems to be associated with greater brain development and at a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease."

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How long should the nap last?

The cerebral benefits are evident with a siesta of between 5 and 15 minutes and can last up to 1 or 3 hours after the afternoon nap. On the other hand, if the siesta exceeds half an hour, a transitory deterioration of cognitive performance is observed.

What the research says about the benefits for the brain

The benefits on the brainThe study examined about 500,000 subjects of both sexes between the ages of 40 and 69 who were first evaluated with Gwas studies, i.e. genome-wide association that evaluates all the genetic variations between the individuals in question, correlating them to the differences of some particular traits. "The sample subjects were then evaluated using brain imaging," he comments Joseph Plazzihead of the Laboratories for the Study and Treatment of Sleep Disorders of the Irccs Institute of Neurological Sciences of Bologna - and it turned out that the genetic predisposition to daytime nap was associated with a total brain volume greater than 15.80cm3, which according to the authors might suggest that regular daytime naps provide some protection against neurodegeneration, compensating for nocturnal sleep.” However, hippocampal volume was not increased, nor did reaction time and visual memory improve.

The afternoon nap should not last more than 30 minutes

Daniel Banfi

"Considering that other studies indicate an overall decline in total brain volume of between 0.2% and 0.5% per year, this finding could indicate that regular siestas earn between 2.6 and 6.5% per year. years of brain aging", underlines Sin. "However, the lack of evidence of an association between siesta, hippocampal volume and cognitive improvements could indicate that other brain areas such as those responsible for vigilance may be influenced by habitual daytime napping and further studies will be needed to identify this relationship ", she concludes.

The afternoon nap should not last more than 30 minutes

Daniel Banfi

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