Siesta means the sixth hour but the word is used today to cover any short sleep, at any time of day. In Spain, it originated to give the workers in the fields a rest during the day, so they would work longer in the evening. As the Spanish people give increasingly less time to sleep, they are considered a nation suffering 'sleep deprivation'. Currently they have more accidents in the home, on the road and in the workplace, than any other European country. The average Spaniard receives at least one hour less sleep per night than other Europeans.

It was the Industrial Revolution in Northern Europe thatave the siesta a bad name, because of the newly popular attitude of the 'work ethic'. This attitude has not changed very much.
In Japan employees have their own desk pillow and offices have 'nap rooms'. The Chinese are following this example in their offices and factories.

Prof. Holmes, Director of the Sleep Research Center at Loughborough University states:

“Life is a success of activity and rest periods each day. It is proven regularly just how important it is to get the balance right, in order to improve our performance in all activities. and is necessary for top health and a more natural lifestyle. ” He goes on to say: “Even a five minute siesta can dissolve stress, and increase your physical and mental powers. We are designed to have two sleeps a day.” “A big one at night and a little one during the afternoon”

In Greece, an intensive six-year study was recently completed. If included 23,000 people ranged in age from 18 to 85. An inverse relationship between siesta taking and fatal heart attacks was discovered. There was a 37% reduction in coronary mortality in those who nap, compared to those who never nap, and 12% by those who occasionally nap.

Bruno Comby who wrote 'Power Sleep', states that it is a fundamental right of any human being, as important as eating and the right to express one's self. I totally agree with this statement. I love my siestas I have always had a sleep in the afternoon, even as a student in Canada, and when I found myself working all day in Marbella. I would go to my car for half and hour.

I discovered recently, when I was visiting my brother, in Canada that he too, takes 10 minute power naps. I was having a little joke about science isolating the 'power nap gene', only to discover that scientists have in fact isolated the 'sleep clock gene' that operates in our body. It is only a matter of time until they isolate the power nap gene

Manchester University's Faculty of Life Sciences has studied sleep extensively. “Electric lighting and stress are the two chief culprits that have converted the natural process of sleep into a daily struggle for millions. clocks, irrational shift work patterns, sleeping pills, alcohol, caffeine “, stated Dr. Burdakov.

Dr. O'Hara who is a neuroscientist at Kentucky University tells us that we still do not know why we benefit from sleep, or why we feel tired when we are lacking in sleep, but it seems somewhat that sleep serves some biological function for the brain such as energy restoration for brain cells or memory consolation.

The most important point of this report is to ask you to look on the siesta as your right, not as a privilege nor should it be considered an example of pure decadent nor being lazy. We are entitled to have adequate sleep, along with food and water. These are basic requirements to a healthy quality of life.

By
Rosalind Scott-Gibb