What is a Siesta?
A siesta is a short sleep, a nap, forty winks or a bit of shut eye. It is very easy for unkind Northern Europeans to look down their noses at the Spanish and image that they spend the whole day sleeping because of their reputation for taking siestas. Scoffing at Spaniards for being slothful loafers does not actually stand up as fact. People in Spain in 2020 worked an average of 1577 hours per worker which is in the middle of the league table. Surprisingly the Mexicans come in as one of the most hard working countries in the world. People in the UK were the 3rd most workshy and those lazy laggards the Germans come out last. What is Fritz doing all day? Check it out here if you don't believe me.
What is the origin of the word siesta?
If you believe wikipedia it is because it comes from the Latin phrase “hora sexta,” or “the sixth hour”. So six hours after waking up the Spanish go to sleep again.
Why is the siesta popular in Spain?
The siesta probably came about because of the extreme heat in the early afternoon in July and August especially in Andalucia. People would go out and work in the fields in the morning and come back at 2pm to eat. The "ama de casa" or housewife would have been to the market and bought some fresh fish and vegeatables in the morning. The family would eat together and this would be the main meal of the day. After eating people would have a strong coffee and watch the news or an episode of something on the TV. Some people flake out while watching the TV, some people sleep on the sofa and some people actually go to bed but it is not normal to take your clothes off. The siesta would last 30 minutes or so and then life would resume around 5pm. Spanish people tend to be very sociable and people may stay up a little late enjoying the cooler evening air. Going to bed a bit late is not a problem because it is possible to catch up with a refreshing siesta.
How to have a siesta.
To answer this question I have to speak from personal experience. Having a siesta is not necesarilly easy. When I was younger I wasn't able to go to sleep during the day but eventually I managed it. I only have siestas when it is hot or if I didn't sleep well the night before. I lie of the bed and immediately drift off to sleep. I wake up about 30 minutes later, feeling refreshed. It feels as if I have been sleeping for much longer. Sleeping more than 1 hour is a bad idea and can make you feel very sluggish.