HUMOR: I love Spain. I have never been there, but I have eaten my fair share of Spanish food and I am grateful for the funding they provided Christopher Columbus. We should all be thankful for the myriad contributions to cuisine and civilization provided by Spain: Besides bacon-wrapped dates and Antonio Banderas, an oft-overlooked wonder of the Spanish world is the siesta.
The tradition began centuries ago. Spain becomes unbearably hot and uncomfortable around 2 or 3 o’clock in the afternoon – sound familiar? Spanish farm workers got very hot and decided one day to give up on Spain and relocate to a more temperate climate – Newport Beach. Not really. California came later. What the farmers really decided to do was to institute a daily nap roughly between the hours of 2 and 4 o’clock in the afternoon, which followed a large, presumably starchy, meal.
I think those Spanish farmers of yesteryear were on to something. At least, that is what it says in Wikipedia, and I quote: “Following the invention of the siesta, Spanish farmers of yesteryear were often heard saying, ‘We are really onto something with this siesta thing.’” (Again, not really.)
(Note to self: Anticipate and insert reader arguments about the true history and nature of the siesta, followed by an argument about the reliability of Wikipedia, and then a debate over Martha Raddatz’s performance as debate moderator, followed by a short nap.)
It seems that Spain still takes the siesta somewhat seriously, given the recent invention of the Ostrich Pillow. Designed by Studio Banana out of Madrid, the Ostrich Pillow’s “soothing cave-like interior shelters and isolates both your head and hands.” It is basically a gigantic padded ski mask for napping. Oh, and it has hand holes – hand holes? Unfortunately, as debonair and – I’ll say it – as sexy as the Ostrich Pillow is, it is only perpetuating the stigma attached to nap-takers.
Do not pretend that you are unaware of the stigma to which I am referring – you know the one, it labels people who nap as lazy and unproductive, it presumes that nappers probably also enjoy daytime television and have nacho cheese smeared on their Looney Tunes T-shirt. This stigma is a patent prejudice against nap-takers.
The stigma is why nappers often have to go to extremes to hide their behavior, just as do amphetamine addicts and people who collect Precious Moments figurines.
Which begs the question: Should there be shame in napping? There is ample evidence that napping leads to increased alertness, job performance, improved moods, et cetera.
We have all heard the benefits of a power nap.
Notorious nappers throughout history include Albert Einstein, Bill Clinton, Thomas Edison, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Napoleon Bonaparte. Even George Costanza of “Seinfeld” fame immortalized himself by constructing a nap hideout under his office desk, complete with a blanket drawer, cup holder, and a shelf for his alarm clock.
Clearly it is feasible to take a 20-minute midday snooze and still lead a productive, fulfilling life, it may even enable the napper to invade Italy!
Thankfully, napping at work is slowly becoming mainstream. I am not talking about accidental napping, either. I am talking about a real 20-minute, lights out, snore fest. At work. With the boss’s blessing.
In a 2008 poll by the National Sleep Foundation, 34 percent of respondents said that their employer allows them to nap during breaks, and 16 percent reported that their employers even provide a room to nap in. Companies like Google, AOL Huffington Post Media Group, Cisco, Nike, and Zappos are getting in the spirit of things by providing nap rooms for their employees. And in what I consider the crowning achievement of capitalism, in places like Manhattan there are napping salons where exhausted executives and students can pay money for uninterrupted sleep in a spa-like environment.
This sounds like a business that would benefit the people of St. George. Since a napping salon doesn’t exist in Washington County at present, here are a few location suggestions for those hoping to catch some midday shuteye;
• Study Room A at the St. George branch of the Washington County Library
• The bedroom display at Boulevard Home Furnishing, preferably when the manager is at lunch
• Study Room B at the St. George branch of the Washington Country Library
• In the shade of Ed Kociela’s gnarly-rooted tree in Snow Canyon State Park
• The Special Collections room at the St. George branch of the Washington County Library
• The Family Room in the Women & Children section of Dixie Regional Medical Center
• On a divan between the stacks in the lower level of Barnes & Noble
• In a corner chair in the lobby of The Courtyard Marriott
• A well-kept secret snooze spot – beneath the St. George City Council’s crescent desk in city council chambers; except for some Thursdays, when you might find yourself attending a council meeting at 4 o’clock if you . . . over-nap.
When you visit your newly found napping salon, do not, repeat, do not announce your intentions and do not tell them Elise sent you. Slink in, make minimal eye contact with officious clerks and stoic librarians, mutter something indiscernible that sounds like you’re waiting for someone that matters, slide in, sit, lie down, shut your eyes. It is one of the anomalies of life, but true, people don’t like to wake people up – anymore than they like to invite people to nap.
Me? I and my ostrich pillow are catching a plane to Spain.
Elise Haynes chronicles family life in her blog Haynes Family Yard Sale. Any opinions stated in this column are her own and not necessarily those of St. George News.
Copyright St. George News, StGeorgeUtah.com Inc., 2012, all rights reserved.