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A siesta Spanish pronunciation: ˈsjesta developed from Spanish, 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 where the weather is warm

The siesta is historically common throughout the Mediterranean and Southern Europe It is the traditional daytime sleep of Spain and, through Spanish influence, the Philippines, and many Hispanic American countries The word siesta of the Spanish language derives originally from the Latin word hora sexta "sixth hour" counting from dawn, hence "midday rest" Siesta is also common in Italy there called riposo, pisolino, where museums, churches and shops close during midday so that proprietors can go home for a long lunch and perhaps a snooze during the day’s hottest hours 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"1

Factors explaining the geographical distribution of the modern siesta are high 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 heat can be unbearable in the early afternoon, making a midday break at home welcome However, siesta is also practiced in some colder regions, such as Patagonia It used to be the custom in Russia, with Adam Olearius stating such was "the custom of the Countrey, where sleep is as necessary after Dinner as in the Night"2 One source of hostility toward False Dmitriy I was that he did not "indulge in the siesta"3:535 This may indicate that the siesta has a stronger relation with culture than with climateclarification neededcitation needed


  • 1 Biological need for naps
  • 2 Sleep cultures
    • 21 Spain
  • 3 Cardiovascular benefits
  • 4 Further reading
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links

Biological need for napsedit

The timing of sleep in humans depends upon a balance between homeostatic sleep propensity, the need for sleep as a function of the amount of time elapsed since the last adequate sleep episode, and circadian rhythms which determine the ideal timing of a correctly structured and restorative sleep episode The homeostatic pressure to sleep starts growing upon awakening The circadian signal for wakefulness starts building in the late afternoon As Harvard professor of sleep medicine Charles A Czeisler notes, "The circadian system is set up in a beautiful way to override the homeostatic drive for sleep"4

Thus, in many people, there is a dip when the drive for sleep has been building for hours and the drive for wakefulness has not yet started This is, again quoting Czeisler, "a great time for a nap"4 The drive for wakefulness intensifies through the evening, making it difficult to get to sleep 2–3 hours before one's usual bedtime when the wake maintenance zone ends

Sleep culturesedit

Dentist and pharmacist sharing similar business hours in the island of Lipsi, Greece

Taking a long lunch break including a nap is common in a number of Mediterranean, tropical, and subtropical countries The Washington Post of 13 February 2007 reports at length on studies in Greece that indicate that those who nap have less risk of heart attack5

In the United States, the United Kingdom, and a growing number of other countries, a short sleep has been referred to as a "power nap", a term coined by Cornell University social psychologist James Maas6 and recognized by other research scientists such as Sara Mednick7 as well as in the popular press8

On farms in rural Norway, farmers traditionally wake up early to care for their livestock This is followed by an early dinner after which a two to three hour nap is taken


In modern Spain, the midday nap during the working week largely has been abandoned among adult working population9 According to a 2009 survey, 162 percent of Spaniards polled claimed to take a nap "daily", whereas 22 percent did so "sometimes", 32 percent "weekends only" and the remainder, 586 percent, "never"10 The share of those who claimed to have a nap daily had diminished by 7 percent compared to a previous poll in 199810 Nearly three-fourths of those who take siesta claimed to do so on the sofa rather than on the bed10 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 till the cooler late evenings and nights

English language media often conflate the siesta with the two to three hour lunch break which is characteristic of Spanish working hours,11 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 Spanish works longer hours than almost all their European counterparts typically 11-hour days, from 9am to 8pm12

As for the origins of the practice in Spain, the scorching summer heat is thought to have motivated those doing agrarian work to take a break to avoid the hottest part of the day In cities, the dismal economic situation in Spain in the post-Spanish Civil War years coincided with the advent of both a modern economy and urbanisation At that time, a long midday break—with or without siesta—was necessary for those commuting between the part-time jobs which were common in the sputtering economy,13 at a time when both private and public transport were virtually non-existentcitation needed

Cardiovascular benefitsedit

La Siesta, Ramon Martí Alsina MNAC

The siesta habit has been associated with a 37 percent reduction in coronary mortality, possibly due to reduced cardiovascular stress mediated by daytime sleep14

Epidemiological studies on the relations between cardiovascular health and siesta have led to conflicting conclusions, possibly because of poor control of moderator 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 factor15

Further readingedit

  • Naska, A, Oikonomou, E, Trichopoulou, A, Psaltopoulou, T and Trichopoulos, D 2007 "Siesta in healthy adults and coronary mortality in the general population" Archives of Internal Medicine, 167, 296-301
  • MohammadReza Zaregarizi, Ben Edwards, Keith George, Yvonne Harrison, Helen Jones and Greg Atkinson 2007 "Acute changes in cardiovascular function during the onset period of daytime sleep: Comparison to lying awake and standing" American J Appl Physiol 103:1332-1338
  • MohammadReza Zaregarizi Effects of Exercise & Daytime Sleep on Human Haemodynamics: With Focus on Changes in Cardiovascular Function during Daytime Sleep Onset ISBN 978-3-8484-1726-1, March 2012


  1. ^ Einhard, Life of Charlemagne, §24
  2. ^ The Voyages and Travells of the Ambassadors Sent by Frederick Duke of Holstein, to the Great Duke of Muscovy, and the King of Persia: Begun in the Year MDCXXXIII, and Finish'd in MDCXXXIX : Containing a Compleat History of Muscovy, Tartary, Persia, and Other Adjacent Countries : with Several Publick Transactions Reaching Near the Present Times : in VII Books, page 5 of Book 1
  3. ^ Howorth, Henry H 1880 History of the Mongols from the 9th to the 19th Century Part 2 The So-Called Tartars of Russia and Central Asia PDF London: Longmans, Green, & Co Retrieved 4 July 2016 
  4. ^ a b Lambert, Craig, PhD July–August 2005 "Deep into Sleep While researchers probe sleep's functions, sleep itself is becoming a lost art" Harvard Magazine Retrieved 25 February 2008 
  5. ^ Stein, Rob "Midday Naps Found to Help Fend Off Heart Disease", Washington Post, 13 February 2007, p A14
  6. ^ Maas, James B 1998 Miracle Sleep Cure: London: Thorsons
  7. ^ "The National Institute of Mental Health Power Nap Study" 1 July 2002 Retrieved 1 July 2002 
  8. ^ "Researchers: Power Nap Better than Caffeine to Fight Afternoon Fatigue" Fox News 4 September 2007 
  9. ^ "Costumbres y curiosidades de España - Escuelapedia - Recursos Educativos" Retrieved 2015-10-05  Spanish
  10. ^ a b c "Spanish siesta: The Spanish siesta myth or reality" El País Retrieved 2016-06-19 
  11. ^ La prensa internacional ironiza: Rajoy quiere quitar la siesta|España|El País
  12. ^ Paul Kelley 22 February 2017 "Spaniards' lack of sleep isn't a cultural thing - they're in the wrong time zone" The Guardian 
  13. ^ "Out of sync with the sun" The Economist Retrieved 2016-08-18 
  14. ^ Naska et al, 2007
  15. ^ Zaregarizi, M 2012

External linksedit

Listen to this article info/dl

This audio file was created from a revision of the "Siesta" article dated 2012-12-2, and does not reflect subsequent edits to the article Audio help More spoken articles
  • Why we could all do with a Siesta – An article about research results from the University of Manchester
  • Is there a decline in Siesta - An article about the decline in siesta
  • Medical disadvantages correlated with Siesta - An article from the Oxford Journal

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