The Perfect Siesta

Siesta is a well-known Spanish custom. Around lunchtime (which in Spain is between 1pm-4pm), a lot of shops and businesses close for a few hours to have lunch with the family, then a siesta.

I’ve taken to adopting this particular cultural aspect, because I like sleep. My timetable is such that I only ever manage to have a siesta on Wednesday and Friday, and the weekend of course. The other three days of the week I have to go without.

Sleeping in the middle of the day in the UK is only really acceptable if you’re an infant or student. We call it napping.

I have never been a big sleeper, sometimes I can go for a few weeks with just 5-6 hours of sleep per night. I’m told this isn’t healthy, but I cope so I must be ok. Taking siestas (or naps) during the day is something I once would have said would totally mess with my sleep patterns- ‘If I sleep now, I won’t sleep tonight’, were often the words I would utter, especially as a student.

With siestas though, I’ve learnt that you need to get the length of time just right. For example, if I sleep for about 20-30 minutes, I will awake from my siesta a little groggy, but after half an hour or so, I feel wide awake. And more often than not I will later also sleep well at night. If I sleep for an hour or longer, I will immediately be wide awake, and I will continue to be wide awake until a few hours before my alarm goes off. That’s not good.

There is also the time factor. If you take your siesta around 2pm, that’s too early. I find about 3.30pm is generally a good siesta time. Any later than that and you will definitely mess with your sleep patterns for the night time.
It is quite difficult trying to figure out the best time and the right length for your siesta!


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