A nap a day keeps the doctor away

It has been a habit that has been lost over time, and that at this moment not all of us have the chance to do it. Those who like it and have a slightly more flexible working life might seriously think about having a 20 minute nap regularly after lunch. There is already a great deal of evidence that it helps to recover energy and increase productivity at work.


The origin of the siesta dates back many centuries, instituted by the Romans as the sixth hour, that is, the sixth hour after dawn which referred to noon, the peak of heat.


This cultural habit was lost in many countries from the moment the workers began to be paid on time and not for work, reducing the time available for naps. Later, with the industrial revolution, this tendency towards the disappearance of the naps was still greater with the concept of the uninterrupted working day, only being maintained in some countries of hotter climate like Spain and India.


Several distinguished personalities were great supporters of the nap after lunch. Leonardo da Vinci, Napoleon Bonaparte, Thomas Edison and Winston Churchill were part of this lot.


The tendency to siesta is physiological, since after lunch there is a relative decrease of our body temperature (it favors drowsiness) as well as digestion activates the parasympathetic nervous system, causing the person to feel calmer and relaxed.


But naps are not meant for all people. Those who suffer from insomnia should not do so because it will further reduce the duration and quality of sleep at night, those suffering from migraines and epilepsy should also avoid them since they can trigger such situations. Also for those suffering from depression it can be harmful.

Siesta, even if it’s not at lunch time, can be an asset to shift workers, or narcolepsy sufferers (people who suffer from extreme episodes of sleep at any time of the day without previous “warning”, even if they slept well the night before). This is because after a period of sleep, there is a period without propensity to sleep. In this way, naps can be programmed for moments before a night shift, or before events where it would be inconvenient to be “attacked” by sleep (eg, conference, meeting, driving, etc.).



  • The ideal time for a nap is between one and three in the afternoon;
  • Go to the bathroom before nap;
  • Should be held in a safe and quiet place away from light and noise;
  • Make sure that we are in a location with a pleasant temperature (neither too cold nor too hot);
  • The ideal length of a nap will be between 20-30 minutes (does not significantly affect nighttime sleep), or between 90-100 minutes (but may lead to less sleep at night).
  • Naps of about 60 minutes can cause us confusion and disorientation, as we will probably wake up during the deep sleep phase.
  • Find a comfortable position to support the neck;
  • If it’s impossible to lie down, let’s try to find a leg-raising position. It is estimated that it takes about 50% more time to fall asleep when sitting;
  • Think about the possibility of having a cup of coffee before starting the siesta. Since it will take about twenty minutes for caffeine to enter the digestive system, we can take a nap before the effects are felt. A Japanese study found that people who drank caffeine immediately before a nap were more alert when they awoke than those who didn’t, and that their productivity at work was then higher

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