Rest has long been considered beneficial to patient healing; however, remarkably, there are no evidence-based experimental models determining how it benefits disease outcomes. Here, we created an experimental rest model in mice that briefly extends the morning rest period. We found in 2 major cardiovascular disease conditions (cardiac hypertrophy, myocardial infarction) that imposing a short, extended period of morning rest each day limited cardiac remodeling compared with controls. Mechanistically, rest mitigates autonomic-mediated hemodynamic stress on the cardiovascular system, relaxes myofilament contractility, and attenuates cardiac remodeling genes, consistent with the benefits on cardiac structure and function. These same rest-responsive gene pathways underlie the pathophysiology of many major human cardiovascular conditions, as demonstrated by interrogating open-source transcriptomic data; thus, patients with other conditions may also benefit from a morning rest period in a similar manner. Our findings implicate rest as a key driver of physiology, creating a potentially new field — as broad and important as diet, sleep, or exercise — and provide a strong rationale for investigation of rest-based therapy for major clinical diseases.


Cristine J. Reitz, Mina Rasouli, Faisal J. Alibhai, Tarak N. Khatua, W. Glen Pyle, Tami A. Martino


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