Siesta is an afternoon nap. It is a tradition in Spain, Greece, Italy. It starts from 13–14 hours and lasts until 15–17. In these countries, most of the institutions follow the traditions, and, despite the influx of visitors, close their doors for the afternoon rest. The importance of daytime sleep is often underestimated, but after trying it once, the positive results can be felt immediately. Together with MedAboutMe, we found out why the siesta is so important and what are the pros and cons of an afternoon nap.
Benefits of a siesta
1. Memory improves
It has been proven that sleep after studying a large amount of information helps to better remember it and comprehend it. Daytime sleep in this case is equated to a full-fledged night.
2. Easier to draw conclusions
When solving a difficult task or problem, daytime naps can help with finding the answer. During sleep, the information received earlier is analyzed and the necessary connections can be found. In 2016, a study was conducted by domestic doctors, as a result of which it was proved that daytime sleep stabilizes the speed of decision-making and increases the duration of gaze fixation.
3. Improves mood
With overwork, depressed mood, daytime sleep helps to relax and improve mood. Even if you didn’t manage to fall asleep fully, relaxing for an hour has a positive effect on the body.
4. Short sleep is more beneficial
Daytime sleep should be no more than 30 minutes. 10 minutes is considered ideal. It is during this time that the body sinks into sleep, relaxes and after that only a feeling of cheerfulness remains. With a longer siesta, it takes time to wake up and there is a chance that you will be more sleepy than when you went to bed. This phenomenon is called sleep inertia.
5. Sleep is better than coffee
When feeling tired and unwilling to concentrate, there is always a desire to drink a cup of strong coffee. The best solution in this situation would be to sleep. 10 minutes sleep is much more effective than caffeine. The use of a hot drink has a stimulating effect on the nervous system, cardiovascular, excretory, digestive. The pressure rises, the pulse quickens, urination and the secretion of gastric juice increase.
In turn, during daytime sleep, the body gets the opportunity to relax and unwind. As a result, natural cheerfulness appears and the ability to concentrate improves without any additional stimulation.
6. Reduces stress levels
With increased stress or after a stressful situation, sleep helps to relax. This gives strength and time to adequately assess the situation and rethink some points. No wonder there is a proverb: “You need to sleep with a problem.”
7. Helps Reduce Blood Pressure
After a busy day at work or some kind of stress, blood pressure may rise. You can take a pill, or you can just take a nap. Sleeping for an hour has been proven to help lower blood pressure without the use of any aids.
8. Improves the quality of sleep at night
The paradox is that the better you sleep during the day, the better your sleep will be at night. However, the siesta must be correct. It is best to arrange it between 13 and 15 hours. Preceding physical activity, preferably outdoors, is also important. A walk in the fresh air, a light nap after it will improve not only well-being, but also mood. This information is especially relevant for older people who have problems with sleep.
9. Helps children develop
The child’s brain has a huge capacity for assimilation of information, but they are not unlimited. That is why periods of daytime sleep are so important for a child, during which the brain rests, and then it can again actively perceive a variety of information. The younger the child, the more such periods of “reboot” should be.
Disadvantages of daytime sleep
- The appearance of lethargy
This is a fairly common consequence of daytime sleep. Most often, lethargy and a feeling of weakness are associated with excessive sleep (more than 1.5 hours). Or with increased fatigue of the body, which needs a full night’s sleep to recover, and it simply does not have enough daytime sleep.
- Night sleep disturbance
A night’s sleep may be disrupted one-time or even the schedule may be off. This is especially important for insomnia. Daytime sleep with any sleep disorders will only exacerbate the existing problem.
Headache after daytime sleep is dull, unpleasant. The use of any drugs (NSAIDs) usually does not work. The solution to this problem is a good night’s sleep and rest. With active mental activity, the headache can go away on its own.
Day rest rules
Any vacation should take place in comfortable conditions. Even if you can’t fall asleep and relax, you need to do this in the most convenient place. It is desirable that it be a bed or a sofa, a large armchair is allowed. It is best to remove all tight clothing. Put a pillow under your head, and never try to sleep at your desk (stiff neck muscles, back pain and headache after this are provided).
- it is better to arrange a daily break for sleep at the same time;
- siesta should be no later than 15 hours;
- the minimum duration of sleep is 10 minutes, the maximum is 2 hours;
- Be sure to set an alarm so as not to knock down the sleep-wake schedule.
To sleep or not to sleep in the daytime — everyone decides for himself. However, the benefits of siesta for the body are significant. Not just because in some countries it is considered a tradition. Literally 10–20 minutes of sleep will help get rid of a bad mood, rethink the information received and better concentrate on solving problems and problems. Daytime sleep is especially important for children, whose nervous system is not yet fully formed, and for the elderly, who often have problems with a full night’s sleep.
MedAboutMe also recommends reading Daytime Naps: What’s the Benefit of a Siesta?