The siesta is a Spanish tradition of taking a nap break at noon, dating back to ancient Rome. Today, only 41 percent of Spanish follow it, and only 16 percent practice it daily. Nevertheless, it’s a habit worth noting. We tell you why you should rest during the day if you suffer from stress, absent-mindedness, and low productivity.
Siesta reduces stress and the risk of heart disease.
A midday rest of 20-30 minutes reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by 37% and reduces stress and physical tension, assures Dr. Esteban de Vicente. He is engaged in neurophysiological studies of sleep at the Hospital Hospital Quiron in Torrevieja, Spain. De Vicente recommends not sleeping more than 30 minutes during the day – otherwise, the effect will be the opposite: a person will feel even more tired than before siesta, and he will have a headache.
In addition, de Vicente suggests going to bed simultaneously – the best time is just before lunch or after it. If you sleep later and longer than 30 minutes, it can hurt your night’s sleep. Also, de Vicente does not recommend siesta for people with insomnia.
Siesta lowers blood pressure.
Participants in an experiment conducted at Pennsylvania’s Allegheny College slept for more than half an hour – 45 to 60 minutes. We don’t know if they felt more excited than they did before the siesta. But the results of the study showed a significant decrease in blood pressure.
Siesta improves learning ability.
Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, conducted an experiment involving 39 young people. The participants were divided into two groups: some took a break for daytime sleep, others did not. At noon, they were given challenging memory tasks designed to increase the load on the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved in storing factual information. The results of the two groups were not significantly different. At 2 p.m., one group was allowed to sleep for 90 minutes. Participants in the second group remained awake. At 6:00 p.m., the subjects were offered new tasks. Those who slept during the day performed significantly better. These results confirm the hypothesis of neuroscientists that sleep is necessary to clear the brain’s short-term memory and create space for new information.
Siesta helps you make tough decisions.
It seems that morning is wiser in the evening – the decisions that we make after a short nap are more accessible than usual.
That’s the conclusion reached by researchers at Bristol University. Short naps help the brain process information, and as a result, we are quicker to evaluate the pros and cons of difficult situations.
Siesta increases productivity and alertness.
According to a NASA study, sleep breaks of 20-30 minutes improve productivity by 34%, helping us avoid unnecessary mistakes, and alertness by 54%. However, NASA and Esteban de Vicente warn: napping too long will increase the risk of sleep inertia. If the brain goes into a deep sleep state during a siesta, waking up after an hour-long nap can be very unpleasant.
To avoid this condition, Jim Horne of the British Sleep Research Council suggests sleeping for about 15 minutes and drinking a cup of coffee before going to bed. The caffeine will kick in just in time to wake up. Some call this technique nappuccino (from nap and cappuccino).