When Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced proposals to end the normal Spanish working day at 6pm, rather than 7pm or later, spelling the end of the afternoon siesta, I got to thinking about the value of a good nap. I work some strange hours depending on the requirements of my clients. Sometimes I’m working past midnight and again from 6 am. On those days I find that a late morning or afternoon nap is extremely beneficial.
While an afternoon nap may be acceptable in Spain (and in my house), it is not always viewed positively here in the UK. Here are some nice facts about napping to counteract that negativity:
– Naps form part of the natural cycle of the body and missing them could be worse for health than skipping a meal.
– Research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that a wee snooze could restore immune and neuroendocrine biomarkers to normal health.
– Their data suggests that a 30-minute siesta could revert the hormonal impact of a night of bad sleep, helping the immune system to recover.
– A recent NASA study showed that pilots allowed to take a nap for 26 minutes during their working hours saw their efficiency increase by 34%.
The length of the nap is crucial: NASA found that the optimum length of a nap is 26 minutes and most experts seem to agree that too long a nap can be detrimental. It is generally agreed that a nap should last no longer than half an hour and should take place on a sofa or armchair and not in bed, where it is more likely that the napper will fall into a deep sleep. Finally, it is recommended that siestas form part of the regular daily routine rather than a one off.