A siesta (from Spanish, pronounced [ˈsjesta] and meaning "nap") is a short nap taken in the early afternoon, often after the midday meal. Such a period of sleep is a common tradition in some countries, particularly those in warm-weather zones. The "siesta" can refer to the nap itself, or more generally to a period of the day, generally between 2 and 5 PM. This period is used for sleep, as well as leisure, mid-day meals, or other activities.
Siestas are historically common throughout the Mediterranean and Southern Europe, the Middle East, mainland China, and the Indian subcontinent. The siesta is an old tradition in Spain and, through Spanish influence, most of Latin America. The Spanish word siesta derives originally from the Latin word hora sexta "sixth hour" (counting from dawn, hence "midday rest").
Factors explaining the geographical distribution of the modern siesta are warm temperatures and heavy intake of food at the midday meal. Combined, these two factors contribute to the feeling of post-lunch drowsiness. In many countries that practice the siesta, the summer heat can be unbearable in the early afternoon, making a midday break at home welcome.
In Southern Italy the siesta is called controra (from contro ("counter") + ora "hour"), that is believed as a magical moment of the day, in which the world comes back in possession of ghosts and spirits. In Dalmatia (coastal Croatia), the traditional afternoon nap is known as pižolot (from Venetian pixolotto). In Egypt as with other Middle Eastern countries, government workers typically work 6 hours a day, 6 days a week. Due to this schedule, workers do not eat lunch at work, but instead leave work around 2 pm and eat their main meal, which is the heaviest, at lunchtime. Following the heavy lunch, they take a taaseela or nap and have tea upon waking up. For dinner, they usually have a smaller meal.[not verified in body]
Einhard's Life of Charlemagne describes the emperor's summertime siestas: "In summer, after his midday meal, he would eat some fruit and take another drink; then he would remove his shoes and undress completely, just as he did at night, and rest for two or three hours."
In modern Spain, the midday nap during the working week has largely been abandoned among the adult working population. According to a 2009 survey, 16.2 percent of Spaniards polled claimed to take a nap "daily", whereas 22 percent did so "sometimes", 3.2 percent "weekends only" and the remainder, 58.6 percent, "never". The share of those who claimed to have a nap daily had diminished by 7 percent compared to a previous poll in 1998. Nearly three quarters of those who take siesta claimed to do so on the sofa rather than on the bed. The habit is more likely among the elderly or during summer holidays in order to avoid the high temperatures of the day and extend social life until the cooler late evenings and nights.
English-language media often conflates the siesta with the two to three hour lunch break that is characteristic of Spanish working hours, even though the working population is less likely to have time for a siesta and the two events are not necessarily connected. In fact, the average Spaniard works longer hours than almost all their European counterparts (typically 11-hour days, from 9am to 8pm).[contradictory]
Epidemiological studies on the relations between cardiovascular health and siesta have led to conflicting conclusions, possibly because of poor control of confounding variables, such as physical activity. It is possible that people who take a siesta have different physical activity habits, for example, waking earlier and scheduling more activity during the morning. Such differences in physical activity may lead to different 24-hour profiles in cardiovascular function. Even if such effects of physical activity can be discounted in explaining the relationship between siesta and cardiovascular health, it is still not known whether the daytime nap itself, a supine posture, or the expectancy of a nap is the most important factor.
Napping during a lunch break may be a new experience for many Americans. Resting during the midday is not a new practice to other areas in the world, however. While the exact date of the start of siestas is impossible to pinpoint, the practice likely goes back to the early Roman Empire, even though it is most commonly associated with Spain.
If you ask the average person in Spain, though, siesta is hardly an accurate word to describe it. A siesta is a nap, usually taken in the afternoon. Some alternative terms might include descanso (break), descanso de mediodía (mid-day break) or hora del almuerzo (lunch hour).
If we go back all the way to the very first origins of this cultural trope, we land in modern-day Italy. The word siesta actually derives from the Latin sexta, which comes from the Roman tradition to take a break at the sixth hour of the day.
A small Spanish town called Ador, which still practices a daily siesta, closes all businesses between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. each day. Historically, Spanish companies that built a two-hour break into the workday schedule extended the working day to around 8 p.m., a practice that continues among many Spanish workers today.
Although most people associate the siesta with Spain, the practice actually originated with ancient Romans in Italy, where it is called a riposo. Similar midday nap breaks are common around the Mediterranean and in many Latin American countries, where the midday is often hot. Before air conditioning existed, the siesta offered a much-needed break from the hottest hours of the day.
Although ending the siesta is controversial, data suggests it might benefit workers. Spanish workers put in more hours than the annual average among European Union countries, while sleeping fewer minutes each day than their counterparts in major EU nations such as France, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
However, naps longer than 30 minutes might not provide the immediate benefits a person seeks. If a person enters deep sleep during their nap, which often happens around the 30-minute mark, they can wake up feeling groggy. This grogginess is called sleep inertia, and it may impair performance. People hoping a siesta will rejuvenate them and improve their afternoon work might want to set an alarm for 30 minutes or less in order to avoid sleep inertia.
Background: Midday napping (siesta) is common in populations with low coronary mortality, but epidemiological studies have generated conflicting results. We have undertaken an analysis based on a sizable cohort with a high frequency of napping and information on potentially confounding variables including reported comorbidity, physical activity, and diet.
Results: Among men and women, when controlling for potential confounders and using those not taking siesta as a referent category, those taking a siesta of any frequency or duration had a coronary mortality ratio (MR) of 0.66 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.45-0.97). Specifically, those occasionally napping had a 12% lower coronary mortality (MR, 0.88; 95% CI, 0.48-1.60), whereas those systematically napping had a 37% lower coronary mortality (MR, 0.63; 95% CI, 0.42-0.93). Among men, the inverse association was stronger when the analysis was restricted to those who were currently working at enrollment, whereas among women, a similar analysis was not possible because of the small number of deaths.
Conclusion: After controlling for potential confounders, siesta in apparently healthy individuals is inversely associated with coronary mortality, and the association was particularly evident among working men.
These factors explain why one of the many Spanish customs involves taking a nap after lunch. This means that most businesses and stores close between 2 and 4 p.m. so employees can go home, eat, and take a rest from working during the hottest part of the day. Although Spaniards are quite used to having the city grind to a halt for a few hours in the middle of the day, foreigners often find siesta time frustrating, as they might have planned on walking around or shopping. 781b155fdc