If you were born in Latin America and spent at least some of your childhood there, you are very likely to remember the naps. Oh those long glorious naps you used to take after coming home from el colegio in your dirty uniform and your shoes covered in some sticky mess. Or you might remember those short naps your abuelos used to take right after almuerzo.
You also know that once you arrived in America those naps were suddenly out of style. There was no more coming home from school and resting. There is a reason for that. American culture doesn’t really nap, and the siesta is relegated to some exotic tradition that you only observe while on vacations over there.
Siestas – in Latin are “sexta hora,” which literally means at the sixth hour (meaning noon) – likely began during the Roman era, which allowed people who worked outside to break from the heat for a bit, and then come back to work in the evening. In Spain, after the Spanish Civil War, folks were more likely to work two jobs, and so they separated their “jobs” with a siesta in between.
Siestas made their way to Latin America thanks to the Spaniards, where they are generally used to take a break from the heat; even in cold countries like Chile. You’ll notice many businesses close at around 2pm for a few hours. Your American friends will be left scratching their heads.
So nw that work from home is the norm for many of us, why should you do as your ancestors did (and your grandma likely still does) and take a break in the afternoon for a disco nap?
#1 It’s the Best Form of Self-Care
They likely didn’t know it but our ancestors’ practice of napping in the afternoon was the best form of self-care. If you had an over-stimulating morning or a difficult work shift, there is nothing better than taking a quick 20 minute nap and waking up completely refreshed.
#2 It Beats Being Over-Caffeinated
Coffee gives you that kick you need to get through the second half of the day – but too much caffeine can make you irritable and give you that end of day crash. Taking an ancestral siesta helps you feel as turbocharged as you do after having your favorite latte – no stimulants needed and no coffee jitters in the evening.
#3 Naps Are Good For Your Body
Naps have been by found by researchers to improve your cognitive ability and learning capacity. In fact, a study via the University of San Diego found that a 60-90 minute nap improved learning, motor skills and verbal comprehension.
#4 But Only If You Don’t Overdo it
Naps are an excellent tradition to bring back; but keep a few guardrails in mind: Don’t go over 30 minutes but under 60, because you’ll end up groggy and don’t nap too late in the day. There’s a reason your abuelita napped right after lunchtime. Napping close to 4pm was a big no no.
So whether you’re feeling the effects of the night before, having a tough work day or baby is keeping you up at all hours, bringing back our ancestral siestas might be just what you need to bring into 2022, especially now that you work from home. Your body will thank you – and your ancestors will applaud.