The topic of the siesta

El tópico de la siesta

The newspaper ‘Time’ states in an article available on its website that in Spain, it is common for workdays to begin at 10 in the morning and to pause at 2 in the afternoon. After this time, and following the customary lunch, Spaniards take a “three-hour” siesta, returning later to their workplace and concluding their workday at 8 in the evening.

But what about this?

The reality is very different from the stereotypes we’ve heard so many times.

Cinema, literature, or television have imposed a series of preconceived ideas about various cultures around the world that have been accepted as true without question. So, we end up thinking that we know a country perfectly without even having visited it.

To dismantle the stereotype about the siesta and Spaniards, the Health Education Foundation of the Clínico San Carlos Hospital along with the Spanish Bed Manufacturers Association conducted, in 2009, the first study on health and rest. This report, based on surveys from more than 3,000 people, provides some interesting data about this practice, which is not as widespread in Spain. It helps to present a real image contrary to what is often portrayed by foreign media.

On the other hand, due to the high temperatures that usually occur in Spain at midday, especially during the summer months, carrying out any work or engaging in any mental or physical activity becomes a challenging task. This is known as thermal stress.

As a physiological response to daily activity, a decrease in alertness occurs between 2:00 PM and 4:00 PM. Most businesses and shops close between 2:00 PM and 4:00 PM because it doesn’t make sense to keep them open during hours when the streets are deserted and there are no potential buyers. This leads to extended opening hours in summer, sometimes until 10:00 PM or later in certain areas of the Spanish coastline.

60% of respondents claim to never take a nap. Only 16.2% of Spaniards take a siesta every day. 22% do it occasionally, and 3.2% only on weekends.

These facts demonstrate that the siesta isn’t as deeply rooted in our culture as it might seem and debunk a stereotype that has persisted over time

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