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It’s Time To Bring Back The Siesta

Today’s hectic high-stress lifestyle is literally killing us. Cortisol is the name of the hormone released by your body when you are stressed. In high amounts over a long period of time, cortisol can lead to heart disease, stroke, and lots of other stuff that will ruin your day. One of the contributing factors to our increased cortisol level is that we Americans are not getting enough sleep. Like most things, we Latinos had this figured out centuries ago and American scientists are just now catching on. It’s called the siesta and it will save our lives.

The siesta goes back several centuries to medieval Spain. The heaviest meal of the day in España is lunch, when you’d gather with friends and family for a large feast. This was also the hottest time of the day, which was perhaps not the best time to fill up on salted ham and manchego cheese. What they realized is that a short nap from about 1 to 3pm would not only rejuvenate people, it would save them from working during the unbearably hot hours. When the Spanish came to the Americas, they brought the siesta with them. Even Cortez, took an afternoon break from all his raping and pillaging for a quick snooze. Genocide is exhausting, ya’ll!

Unfortunately, throughout Latin America and Spain the siesta is in danger. Modern life, with it’s hectic American-style working hours, have become the norm throughout much of the world. We work more hours than most people have worked ever in history, and our bodies just aren’t built that way. Researchers have realized the health and productivity benefits of what our ancestors have known for centuries. This author’s grandfather took a siesta every day of his life. My grandfather was a doctor, and he would come home from work at 1pm, eat lunch, take a nap, and return to work around 3pm. Nowadays, most of us can’t take that amount of time, but you can still take a power nap. On your lunch or coffee break, take short 15-30 minute nap. You’ll feel a lot better doing that than having your third mocha latte or 5 Hour Energy drink. Not to mention that a siesta doesn’t cost $4.95. But isn’t all this sleeping being lazy? Won’t it make me less productive? The opposite is true. It is said that Thomas Edison would fill his hands with ball bearings and nap in a chair. When he went into a deep sleep, the ball bearings would fall out of his hands and wake him up. Now, if Thomas Edison could squeeze in a nap while inventing the lightbulb, the motion picture camera, and pretty much everything else, so can you.

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