Taking a Nap

The origin of the famous nap in Spain

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There’s nothing better than taking a little time out of our hectic daily schedule to relax. In Spain, people usually take time off around the early afternoon for a nap or as it is called in Spanish “Siesta”. Such a period of sleep is a common tradition in some countries, particularly those where the weather is warm.

The siesta is a mid-day break, usually from 2:00 – 5:00 PM, in which most businesses and schools close their doors so that everyone can go home for a relaxing time to rest or take a short nap.

The National Sleep Foundation, an American nonprofit organization that promotes public understanding of sleep and sleep disorders, has claimed in many reports that taking a nap can make a person more productive, provide psychological benefits because it is relaxing to the body, make someone more alert right after waking up, and finally taking a nap can help a person to perform better and make fewer mistakes.

Some theories suggest that the origins of “la siesta” go back to the Spanish Civil War which took place from 1936 to 1939. This war brought chronic poverty to Spain and as a result, many people had to hold down two or more jobs to make enough money to put food on the table. Some have claimed that the siesta period was used for workers to eat a late lunch. Their long working hours would mean that they would have to go to work in the morning, then resume later in the day too and work into the night. Therefore, their only break would be during the siesta, which was used to recuperate before they started work again.

There are some social and economic considerations against that push many businesses not to allow their workers to take a nap during the working hours. The National Sleep Foundation cites the social stigma attached to taking a nap where “napping is only for children, the sick and the elderly”. Furthermore, people consider it as an act of behaviour that indicates laziness and a lack of ambition.

Another threat is the economic capitalist mindset of many government officials and business companies that initiated many campaigns to change the Spanish work schedule into a nine-to-five workday just like the rest of Europe. This threat is considered the biggest threat and strongest argument against taking naps in Spain.

The act of taking a nap dates back to the mid 1500s. It has evolved and proved scientifically to be healthy. The tradition exists in other cultures such as the Muslim world where taking a nap was a habit of the prophet Mohammed used to take a nap and his followers applied his act after him. The influence of Arabs in Andalucia is believed to have encouraged the Spanish culture to adapt taking a nap as one of the most traditional practices in Spain.


Spanish corporates are seeking to cancel the napping tradition because:
They are against people.
Napping makes employees lazy.
They want employees to work more hours.

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