Your schedule while studying abroad will likely be packed. Classes can be mentally draining, adapting to your host family can be a challenge and you might find yourself out late taking in all the fun and entertainment Latin America offers.
A “strong work ethic” mindset can cause you to feel guilty or lazy about taking some afternoon to time rest and rejuvenate with a siesta. In fact, the people of Latin America have been taking siestas for hundreds of years.
Benefits of a Siesta
The human body is actually designed to crave a nap sometime in the afternoon hours, due to Circadian Rhythms within the body telling it when it’s time for a rest. During a siesta your body refreshes itself, resulting in more energy, clearer thinking and greater productivity.
Regular naps can reduce your risk of heart disease.¹ You might even consider adding a second siesta later in the day if you are planning to stay out late. However, if you’re going to indulge in a siesta, you’ve got to do it right.
The Best Way to Siesta
According to the experts, prime napping time is between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. when melatonin levels in your body drop. When classes and lunch are over and completing homework seems like a major feat, it’s the perfect time to take a siesta.
- Arrange your environment so it’s peaceful, quiet and dark.
- Use an eye pillow to blacken out all light if necessary.
- Breathe, relax and snooze for 10 to 30 minutes.
Be careful not to sleep longer than that or your body will get into a deep sleep that will leave you feeling more tired when you wake up. When you wake after a light siesta, you’ll feel alert, energized and ready to tackle the rest of the day.
Planning a late night out? Schedule a strategic second evening siesta as well.
Go ahead and schedule an afternoon siesta (or two) into your daily routine in Latin America. Not only will you be doing what the locals do, your Spanish will probably improve because you’re giving your body and mind a much needed break.
¹Health Editor (2015, August). The Surprising Way Napping Helps Your Heart. Retrieved from http://www.health.com/heart-disease/naps-may-do-a-heart-good