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The Siesta

The best siesta is 26 minutes long

Described by the renowned author, Camilo José Cela, as the Iberian equivalent of yoga, the origins of the word ‘siesta’ come from the ‘hora sexta’ of the Romans, the time set aside for prayer at the sixth hour after dawn when the sun is at its highest in the image of Divine splendour.

Photo - www.publico.es

Experts say a few minutes’ shuteye after lunch helps both your body and your brain to relax, reinforces memory and concentration, and helps increase productivity on the return to work in the afternoon. It relieves stress and unblocks the mind.

They warn, however, that any longer than 30 minutes may leave you waking up in a bad mood, running the risk of altering your sleep patterns. NASA gives the optimum length as exactly 26 minutes.

Lunch is the main meal of the day in Spain, when the shops and smaller businesses close down at two in the
afternoon after the first half of the working day and Spaniards go home to eat and spend time with their families at the hottest part of the day. As other parts of Europe are finishing work at around 5 or 6 pm, the Spanish return for the second half of their working day. Travelling home for lunch in the larger
cities however means that many do not have time for the luxury of a quick nap after the meal.

The later finish in the evening and eating late at night both make for a long day for many in Spain.

According to the BBC, an afternoon nap was common practice in northern Europe before the industrial revolution. It’s been reintroduced by some of the larger companies in Germany who provide
special rooms for their staff, and unions there have called for it to be brought in as part of the working day.

Desk pillows and napping rooms are provided at some offices in Japan.