Is the siesta an adaptation to disease? A cross-cultural examination

T. Lynne Barone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Why does the practice of the siesta vary across human cultures? One explanation is that it is a form of energy conservation in environments with high temperatures and/or agricultural labor. Disease palliation and prevention represents another area where the siesta might be beneficial. A preliminary study used the Human Relations Area Files (HRAF) to examine the characteristics associated with siesta occurrence. Siestas were not statistically associated with high temperatures or agricultural labor (p > .05). They were, however, statistically associated with the occurrence of malaria (p < .05) and marginally associated with parasitic and chronic infectious disease. Preliminary results suggest that siestas could be adaptive in environments with chronic infectious disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-258
Number of pages26
JournalHuman Nature
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptation
  • Malaria
  • Napping
  • Parasitic disease
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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