A wonderful break: why an afternoon nap is essential for your health

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A wonderful break: why an afternoon nap is essential for your health
For years, an age-old tradition of the Spaniards has been mocked: the siesta. A nap after lunch is often associated with laziness. However, recent studies just teach us that a power nap is ideal. It helps to keep our focus sharp, improve cognitive ability and reduce stress. A good excuse to take a little nap in the afternoon.

My grandmother always sat down in her chair after lunch. Not a day went by without her taking her afternoon nap. As a child, I didn’t like this when my grandmother took her nap. After all, she couldn’t be busy with us. Now that I am a bit older myself and I am very familiar with the benefits of a good siesta, I look at this very differently.

Origin of the siesta

In fact, the afternoon nap is a fixture in Mediterranean culture. The tradition of taking an afternoon nap has been known in this region since ancient times. If we then go more towards modern times and consider the origin of the siesta in Spain, you can find the cause in agriculture here. During the hottest hours of the day, the heat is unbearable, especially under full sun. Your body suddenly seems to weigh heavier with the heat, everything feels sluggish. In stark contrast to the cooler mornings, where you feel more energetic after a good night’s sleep, it is inhumane to perform physical labor between 12 and 4 pm.

2-Hour Lunch break

I went to work in Mallorca at a hotel chain. There I was able to enjoy a long lunch break for the first time. It took some getting used to at first, but I quickly discovered the benefits of a long lunch break. It gave me time to run errands, meet up with friends, grab a bite to eat, exercise, and even go to the hairdresser or beauty salon in the afternoon. Frankly, I do miss it. After this long break, even without a nap, I had enough energy to continue working until 7 pm.

A wonderful break: why an afternoon nap is essential for your health

20 minutes of pure relaxation

If you do some research on the ideal length of time for an afternoon nap, you won’t find much consensus. It goes from 10 minutes to 1 hour. From my years of experience with the afternoon nap, I find 20 minutes to be perfect timing. That means I relax for 10 minutes and then doze off briefly (about 10 minutes). If you sleep for more than half an hour, you will feel less fit when you wake up and you don’t really feel like getting up and going back to work.

Dip after lunch?

Even though it is “not done” in our corporate culture to take a nap at the workplace, we do benefit from it. Companies such as Uber, Google and Nasa offer their employees the necessary facilities to recharge their batteries during the lunch break. Here are some ideas on how to prepare and enjoy your power nap.

A wonderful break: why an afternoon nap is essential for your health

  • Can’t you immediately close your eyes and doze off? Then let yourself be guided by an app (eg Calm App) that ensures that you can relax and, above all, wake up on time;
  • Use earplugs to reduce the ambient noise and ensure minimal light stimuli. You can use an eye mask if the light in the room would be too bright;
  • Ideal would be to be able to lie down. Perhaps you have a cozy sitting area in the office that can be used for a nap if needed. Working from home makes it easier to take a nap undisturbed.
  • Maybe you are a new parent and you had a short night… This nap works wonders! Discuss it with your manager, it is a win-win situation. You will have more energy and will be more productive after such a nap. If others can see the benefit of this, opinions may change around an afternoon nap.
  • You can also make time at home after lunch to take a short “nap”. Your body will let you know when it’s time to take a break.

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