Why Siestas Are a Big Deal in Spain

Ah, the siesta… a midday nap to cure those work blues, or a refreshing break to escape from it all for just a little while. Either way, there’s really nothing better than partaking in a siesta out on the beach under the sun or cooling off beneath the shade of the trees!

And nobody in the world knows how to siesta like the Spaniards! Here’s why siestas are a big deal in Spain:

History of the Siesta

Naps can go back to the beginning of us, humans, really. We have always napped, but the siesta itself actually originated in Spain many years ago. Why?

It’s hot in Spain.

No, really! Siestas tend to occur in hotter climates, and when you consider that “siesta” derives from the Latin hora sexta, or the sixth hour, it makes sense! Traditionally, the day began at dawn, which would make noon the sixth hour, and noon in hotter climates can get really, really hot. So the siesta was born to, basically, escape the heat for a little while!

The Siesta and Spain’s Culture

In more recent years, the siesta is less of an excuse to escape the heat and more of a reflection of Spain’s relaxed, slower-paced lifestyle. The Spanish are warm, welcoming people with no need to rush through life. In fact, they typically don’t even eat dinner until well after the sun has disappeared from the sky, and they’ll stay out into the early morning hours like it’s no big deal. And really, it isn’t!

The siesta serves as a reminder that we need to stop, reflect, take a break and just take time for yourself. Ultimately, it’s a time for resting both physically and mentally, or otherwise, and it’s so engrained into the rich Spanish culture that you’ll often find places of business are closed in respect of the practice. It’s so deeply entwined, in fact, that the National Association of Friends of the Siesta holds a national fiesta championship in Madrid! Locals nap it out to see who can sleep the most in 20 minutes, with original sleeping positions and yes, even the loudest snore.

So Why Is the Siesta a Big Deal?

Aside from being a major part of the Spanish culture, the siesta is just good for everyone! The Spaniards, you, your family and friends… yes, everyone. Especially if you don’t get enough sleep. There’s a Washington Post article that discusses how Spain is actually in the wrong time zone due to its geographical location, so the Spanish actually sleep about an hour less per night than the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends. (Fun Fact: That’s 7 to 9 hours a night for adults 18 and older! Getting less? Siesta time!)

There are historical explanations behind this time zone oddity, but it’s supposedly related to the aftermath of World War II. While nobody is really sure whether or not this assumption is true, the fact that Spain is in a wrong time zone prevails, and so does the siesta to keep the Spaniards going throughout the day.

How You Can Master the Siesta

If you’re feeling a little sluggish, make like a Spaniard: enjoy a two-hour long lunch (seriously, that’s what they do!), throw on some PJs and hop into bed! Don’t let anyone bother you for the next 15 to 30 minutes. Just close your eyes and drift off to dreamland where you can dream of more beautiful things than the stacks of paperwork on your desk, dishes in the sink or any source of stress or frustration. The siesta is about clearing your mind and focusing on you, so if you truly want to master it, free your mind to focus on better, happier things!

Siesta with the Locals!

And once you have the siesta mastered and you’re feeling on top of the world, be sure to join in with the locals! You don’t have to hide in your luxury villa while you’re in Spain if you want to join in on the siesta fun. Just bring a hammock to the beach or on your hike and throw it up in the trees for the siesta of a lifetime listening to the waves crash onto the golden sands or the wind blow through swaying branches of the trees around you.

Now doesn’t that sound like paradise on earth?