Sleep for Success – The Spanish Siesta Championships (10/18/10)
Sleep to Win
They come from all over the nation, ready to leap onto the blue sofas and begin competition . Points are awarded for innovative pyjamas, ease and mastery of execution, loudness of snoring and unusual positions. The Spanish Siesta Competitions are on – and the competitors only have 20 minutes to show their stuff.
Is It Normal to Sleep During the Day?
Spanish siestas used to be one to two hours, but now they are on the verge of extinction. So Islazul, a major Spanish retailer, is highlighting the idea of the siesta while Spain suffers from economic stagnation, bewildering debt, and the aftermath of a staggering real estate bust similar to what cratered business in the U.S. Spanish unemployment is 20% and rising, and plenty of people can sleep in the afternoons.
They used to do it all the time.
If diaries can be believed people in the West routinely slept long periods each afternoon. Most probably napped an hour or more for much of the year. In experiments where people attempt “cave man” sleep, with lights out during outside darkness, many will automatically nap every afternoon.
The end of naps really took hold with electric lights and industrialization. Now the siesta is considered endangered, even in Spain.
Yet naps work. Many studies show short naps can improve productivity and enhance learning and memory. Lots of creative people say they depend on naps. A famous NASA study of the 1980’s of pilots in the cockpit found that alertness went up more than half after naps averaging 26 minutes, and productivity measures went up more than a third.
In short, naps can greatly benefit a sleep deprived, shift working population.
Why We Nap
Generally, humans go to bed when body core temperatures are decreasing, and get more alert as their inner temperatures naturally rise with perhaps a lag of an hour or two. Hot, sweating baths at night quickly cause rapid body cooling, which can improve sleep continuity, deep sleep and REM sleep.
In the afternoon, when the siesta occurs, body core temperature generally remains flat. We can nap or not nap, as we wish.
Napping for Productivity
Short naps seem most effective by not reaching into deeper phases of sleep, when awakening can lead to sleep “inertia,” the terrible lagging, slow feeling people often experience when woken early in the morning. Sleep inertia generally occurs in the deeper phases of sleep, which the brain tries to preserve when people don’t sleep enough – as happens to most Americans.
So we regardless who wins the siesta competition, the pressure to not nap will probably gain, in Spain or throughout the world. Work is a 24 hour affair for us. We often treat our bodies as machines rather than constantly regenerating, renewing organisms which rebuild their major components within days. That remarkable process requires regular periods of rest. Rest is as important to our survival as food.
Yet not important enough to save the siesta.
Rest, sleep, Sarasota Sleep Doctor, well-being, regeneration, longevity, body clocks, insomnia, sleep disorders, the rest doctor, matthew edlund, the power of rest, the body clock, psychology today, huffington post, redbook, longboat key news