In a study published on February 12, 2007, in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Athens Medical School reported that Greek people who took regular siestas were 37% less likely to die of heart disease than those who never indulged in a midday slumber. The scientists tracked more than 23,000 adults for an average of six years, finding that the benefits of napping were most pronounced for working men.
Ayurveda has recommended Vamakukshi, the practice of taking a siesta, for ages. It is important to rest for a few minutes after lunch – traditionally, the largest meal of the day – for improving digestion, energy, alertness and overall health. While resting after a meal, the body’s energy moves inward with total focus on digesting. When the digestion is complete, the siesta naturally ends.
One’s body type may dictate how long a siesta might be as each type digests at a different rate. Vata types with the fastest digestion and the need for less food need short 10-15 min siestas. Pitta types typically do well with around a 15 minute nap, and kapha types who eat slowly and digest slowly may need up to 20 minutes. This research is modern proof for the ancient wisdom. In no culture did taking a siesta mean sleeping for the entire afternoon.