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Travel Tips: The Siesta

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Travel Tips: The Siesta

August 4th, 2016

Are you dreaming of a European summer holiday?

We love following the exciting events, beautiful scenes and amazing history Europe offers every summer. But have you ever wondered about the difference between Australian and European sleep habits?

The first and most significant difference is the Spanish tradition of having a ‘Siesta’. The ‘Siesta’ is one of the most famous aspects of Spanish life, but what does it really mean? In Spain, late afternoon is nap time, every day. Everything shuts down so people can go to sleep.

¿Cuándo? / When?

Shops and businesses close from approximately 2pm to 5pm, while bars and restaurants close from 4pm to about 8pm or 9pm.

¿Por qué? / Why?

Spanish culture is very much connected to the ‘Siesta’, and some aspects of modern life in Spain are actually attributed to it. The main reasons people take Siestas are:

  • To avoid the mid-day heat
  • ‘I would like to enjoy a long lunch’
  • Because the Spanish stay up later and get less sleep on average
  • It’s good for YOU!

¿No más siestas?/ No more ‘Siestas’?

In 2016, the Prime Minister announced that (official) working hours were to end at 6pm rather than 7pm, spelling the (official) end to the two-hour lunch break.

The ‘Siesta’ has been fading out for a while. Many people have been unable or unwilling to take long lunch breaks because of the pressure in the job market. Additionally, air-conditioning has allowed them to work through the mid-day heat.

However, the slow disappearance of the ‘Siesta’ hasn’t affected the late-night lifestyle. In fact, on average the Spanish sleep one less hour per day than any other European country.

Quick fact: According to travel expert Damian Corrigan, “the ‘Siesta’ would hit Madrid and Barcelona much less than in Granada and Salamanca, even before the recent law changes and economic pressures of the past few years.”

Para los que viajan / For those traveling:

  • Big supermarkets and department stores in much of the country stay open during the ‘Siesta’.
  • Winter could be a good time to go shopping, as the heat is not suffocating and many Spaniards stay away during this time. But be careful, many stores will be closed!

Should we have ‘Siestas’ in Australia?

The National Sleep Foundation says that “a short nap is usually recommended (20-30 minutes) for short-term alertness. This type of nap provides significant benefits, such as improved alertness and performance, without leaving you feeling groggy or interfering with night time sleep.”

Always remember: Matching a good nap with the perfect mattress could help your ‘Siesta’ get you ready for the ‘Fiesta’. Ask us today about how you can find the best match for you.

As Always, Sleep Healthy!