Lifestyle mediators of associations among siestas, obesity, and metabolic health

The aim of this study was to determine the association between siestas/no siestas and obesity, considering siesta duration (long: >30 minutes, short: ≤30 minutes), and test whether siesta traits and/or lifestyle factors mediate the association of siestas with obesity and metabolic syndrome (MetS).

This was a cross-sectional study of 3275 adults from a Mediterranean population (the Obesity, Nutrigenetics, TIming, and MEditerranean [ONTIME] study) who had the opportunity of taking siestas because it is culturally embedded.

Thirty-five percent of participants usually took siestas (16% long siestas). Compared with the no-siesta group, long siestas were associated with higher values of BMI, waist circumference, fasting glucose, systolic blood pressure, and diastolic blood pressure, as well as with a higher prevalence of MetS (41%; p = 0.015). In contrast, the probability of having elevated SBP was lower in the short-siesta group (21%; p = 0.044) than in the no-siesta group. Smoking a higher number of cigarettes per day mediated the association of long siestas with higher BMI (by 12%, percentage of association mediated by smoking; p < 0.05). Similarly, delays in nighttime sleep and eating schedules and higher energy intake at lunch (the meal preceding siestas) mediated the association between higher BMI and long siestas by 8%, 4%, and 5% (all p < 0.05). Napping in bed (vs. sofa/armchair) showed a trend to mediate the association between long siestas and higher SBP (by 6%; p = 0.055).

Siesta duration is relevant in obesity/MetS. Timing of nighttime sleep and eating, energy intake at lunch, cigarette smoking, and siesta location mediated this association.