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The Spanish Siesta Champion Wins, but the Siesta and Naps Lose (10/25/10)

October 25, 2010

And the Winner Is…

The competitors came to the middle of Madrid’s Islazul shopping center ready to lie down and compete.  There were 360  who came to demonstrate to the judges their flair for imaginative bedclothes, weird resting positions, capacity to fall instantly asleep and overall “quality” of snoring, but only one returned a winner.

He was a man of 62, an unemployed Ecuadorean in a country actively discouraging immigration, who fell asleep almost instantly and crooned like a log.  His snore was recorded as running a noise level of at least 70 decibels throughout much of his 20 minute session, strongly influencing the judges in his favor.  His prize was 1000 euros and fleeting glory, while here are some take home lessons for the rest of us:

  1. Even in a nation in economic crisis and 20% unemployment, people do not feel they have much time to rest.  The BBC reported that perhaps 16% of Spaniards now take afternoon naps.
  2. Even when afternoon time is allocated, it is not spent for sleep.  When Spaniards do take a “siesta” they eat and take their kids back to school, while many work even if not at their formal workplace.
  3. Some Spaniards have yet to recognize that sleep apnea can occur in the daytime – as may well have happened to the winner.

As for this country, according to Circadian Technologies, a body clock consulting firm, the majority of Fortune 500 corporations will fire or reprimand workers who nap on the job.  Despite much evidence that short naps can revive people and increase productivity, as in the famous NASA study of cockpit pilots of the 1980’s,  these days you’re often fired if you fall asleep.

Active Rest

There are many ways to revive your body, especially in the middle of the afternoon.  Naps are often desired by a chronically sleep deprived population, but active rest techniques – like taking a walk at lunchtime – can quickly improve acuity and productivity.  Active rest techniques, where you mentally revive and help your body rebuild, can still be done almost anywhere, anytime.

Yet the near demise of napping in Spain tells you that much of the world is now uncomfortable with the whole idea of rest, not seeing it for the regeneration it bestows.   Physical activity and rest are critical to survival, just like food.  It’s best to combine them into a system that fits the way your body is built.

You don’t need to fall sleep in a shopping mall to get some real rest. You do need to recognize rest’s importance to survival, productivity, and pleasure.  Naps on the weekend have become almost necessary for many American students and workers in order to overcome their weekday sleep debts.

Rest is regeneration.  It takes time and a little effort, but it’s necessary to rebuild your body  the way you like.  In a country where the medical care system is failing, taking care of yourself is getting to be that much more important.

Which means you really want to know how to rest.
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

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