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The Allure of a Nap

  • 30 January 2019
  • By Shveta Bhagat

The power nap as we know it is part of the culture in many countries and over time has even been acknowledged and introduced in offices. It sure does come with its sweet appeal as who doesn’t want an extra wink to feel energized.

Interestingly the siesta culture originated in Spain and it is derived from ‘hora sexta’, which in Latin means the sixth hour. Traditionally, the day began at dawn, so the sixth hour would be noon – which was considered the hottest.

While siestas are now popular around the world especially among jet setting corporates, it is a tradition in most Spanish speaking nations.

Apart from Spain, the other countries that take their siesta time seriously include Costa Rica, Mexico, Ecuador, Nigeria, The Phillipines, Italy (where it’s called riposo) and Greece. Like you can see they’re mostly coastal countries with hot tropical climate and no surprises then that mid day is their preferred time to switch off and stay indoors while restoring their body with a refreshing nap. It is almost inbuilt in their culture. The rise in temperature along with a hearty meal would make the locals retreat to the comfort of their home to rest until the temperature cool. Now of course with different vocations and change in lifestyle people have adjusted their nap hour. The word ‘nap’ comes from an old English word ‘hnappian’ that is related to Middle High German napfen and means to doze or sleep lightly.

In the corporate world, there are even nap rooms now for the employees to restore their energy and stay productive. Some of the smart work places that have included nap hour include- Google, Huffington Post, Mercedes Benz financial services and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

From a health perspective the jury is still out on whether it is indeed good for health. While it encourages one to slow down and lead an easier pace of life it has also been linked to coronary problems and obesity. A nap longer than 40 minutes is not advisable by medicos as according to them it can disrupt many health parameters such as blood pressure, cholesterol level, sugar level and put people at higher risk of getting a life threatening disease. A study in Costa Rica showed that those who took longer siestas were at a higher risk of coronary problems than those who took shorter naps and only few days a week.

The danger of siesta doctors reason is not just regarding the sleep but also waking. When you wake up your blood pressure is known to rise and heart rate increases, making you vulnerable to heart diseases. In this regard a light nap is indeed what is advisable as any deep sleep would make the waking even harder on the system.

So nap but ensure it is just that and don’t make it a habit, remember the whole idea is to relax a bit and not to slide into la la land.


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