When visiting Spain, you will find that this is the country of the siesta! When we were there, 16 years ago, we discovered the siesta. Everything quietens down from around 2pm – 4pm or longer. The Spanish then come alive in the evening. They eat and party late. Bedtime is around 12 midnight.
Why don’t we have the siesta as part of our Australian culture? Before we had air-conditioning, there were many limp bodies lying around in the afternoon. Work-time would slow down as everyone got drowsy. Just like we did after Christmas lunch, at Helidon, when I was growing up. Everyone found a cool spot for a siesta. Not everyone could fit on the much-loved veranda sofa and for us as children even the hallway floor was a popular space. We could catch the breeze from the front door to the back door. Then we would all awaken from our drowsy states around 4pm and enjoy cold watermelon in the shade of a tree in the backyard.
There have been proposals in Spain to change working hours and end the siesta. Maybe a good idea as people could have a shorter working day rather than a split-shift? The change is okay for those who are working inside with air-conditioning but not so good for the workers out in the olive groves. They need to find a cool, dark place and rest during the heat of the day.
When we were in Spain we adjusted to their culture and went and had a siesta too! Not like some tourists who want the shops open all day! Sign up on the door, sorry, we are closed for a siesta, does not make some visitors happy. But, what about “when in Spain, do as the Spanish do”?
I can fully understand the need for the siesta without air-conditioning on a hot summer’s day in a European country. I think back to when we were in Assisi. The Italians also like a siesta in the mid-afternoon. We stayed in this hotel overlooking the valley. Up multiple winding stairs to our room, concrete floors, with French door opening to the view. It was spectacular. However, in the afternoon to appease the sun the wooden shutters were closed to keep out the heat and it was time to rest.
These days it is popular to “power nap”. This is a mini sleep of between 15-90 minutes. Business people do it, athletes do it, parents caring for children do it. The best “power nappers” in the world are babies and young children. They just fall asleep whenever they feel tired, regardless of the situation or expectations.
Years ago, we had an electrician who would attend to all our electrical work. One time we had a major overall of our power-board. He would work in the morning, have lunch, find a shady spot then have a nap.
Napping during the day is not a usual part of my schedule. I find I sleep better at night if I don’t nap during the day. There is nothing worse than sleep inertia – waking up and feeling groggy! But then, sometimes on a cold winter’s day while resting in front of the fire in a recliner chair, a siesta seems the right thing to do!
If you like to take a siesta during the day there is now an “app” for you! This is the smart way to take a siesta with the help of your smart phone. The app will measure your sleep pattern and then wakes you up at the perfect time so you will feel more rested and ready to take on the rest of the day! I think I’ll try having a siesta this afternoon and dream that I am on holidays in Spain!
Feliz, siesta (happy siesta)!