Why do we take a siesta?

A common side effect of living in Spain is finding yourself succumbing to ‘the Siesta’, according to some people the greatest human invention since the wheel.

Especially during the hot Summer, getting out of the heat and letting your body rest for a couple of hours during the day is said to be beneficial to productivity and will help you get in to the swing of Spanish lifestyle. And everyone who largely works outside the whole day can confirm the yearning of the eyes to get out of that non-stop almost hurtful shimmering sunlight.

In Andalucía, Siesta time is a way of life. Shops and other businesses close between the hours of 14.00-18.00 (each business sets its own exact closing times), the perfect amount of time to have lunch and snooze for a couple of hours.

When did the Spanish start to Siesta?

The word Siesta actually come from the Latin hora sexta (sixth hour), this would be counted from dawn, hence ‘midday rest’.

Although the exact origins are unclear, the theme is that Siesta’s were first taken by agricultural workers to avoid the hottest part of the day, by withdrawing under a tree.

Post Civil War, a time in which the modern economy was developing, people working more than one job would use this time to commute from one job to another as public and private transport were scarce.

You might hear Spaniards referring to siesta as ‘mediodía’ which is when they generally have their heaviest meal of the day.

Top Siesta Tips

  • Don’t snooze for over 90 minutes. Studies show that our body rests in cycles of 90 minutes. Sticking to this time frame should help you to beat that groggy feeling on the other side.
  • Sleep in a dark room. Closes all the shutters, draw the curtains and fool your body into thinking it’s nighttime. You’re more likely to nod-off in total darkness.
  • Have some non-screen time. Put your mobile/tablet/laptop on Plane Mode and enjoy some time without emails and social media. The glare from these devices won’t help you sleep either!


Laura Wood