‘That’s ok,’ I thought to myself. ‘I’ll just have a little nap and it will come to me when I wake up.’ And before I even put my head on the pillow, the idea had come to me, just like a little thought bubble emoticon above my head. Good old fashioned siestas – one of my very favourite things about daily life in Spain. I was an advocate of siestas long before I ever moved to Ibiza, although prior to relocating they were usually only something I could indulge in on the weekends. (Truth be told, in my former life as a magazine editor, I took sneaky secret siestas in the back seat of my car between meetings when necessary. Don’t tell anyone!) When I first arrived on the white isle, I would wake up late, potter around the house and then by the time I’d gotten up, showered and was ready to head out to go shopping or buy food, I’d be perplexed by all the stores (and it really was ALL of them back then too!) being closed between 2pm and 5pm. I couldn’t understand how a business could want to close in the hours when people like me needed them most. Hello! Potential revenue over here!
Fast forward about two years and I started singing a completely different tune. I realised there was no point fighting this long-standing tradition and started to comprehend the local working mentality – it’s not about the money honey. Siestas became my friend. Trudging around in the stifling 34-degree (plus!) August heat makes you sluggish and sleepy. Late nights spent enjoying the fruits of Ibiza combined with early morning deadlines make you feel quite dozy by mid-afternoon. And then of course, there are those days when the enormous lunch you’ve eaten simply puts you into a food coma. The solution for all of the above? Siesta! I often hear people say they find it difficult to take siestas – that it’s too hard to get out of bed in the afternoon and start the day all over again. That once they fall asleep, there’s no waking them up. Or that they don’t want to waste the daytime hours. Of course, there are also those who work typical office hours and don’t have the opportunity to take naps (I feel for you!). To each their own I suppose, but for me, the siesta has become somewhat of a daily ritual. If I miss out on my siesta – which does happen from time to time during the busy season – I get crabby and find it difficult to concentrate for the rest of the day and find myself far more likely to reach for an evil Red Bull in the afternoons.
I try to take an hour-long siesta at some stage between 3pm and 5pm. I’ve been known to have them later in the day, but I feel like once you’ve passed 7pm it technically becomes a disco nap, not a siesta. The first thing I do is decide – like Goldilocks – where exactly I shall spend that blissful hour of daytime sleep. I’m fortunate to have many choices. On the weekends, I’m more likely to siesta on the sofa and in the winter months, I love curling up in my bed wrapped in duvets and blankets with my cats. In spring and autumn, I have a lovely shaded daybed on my roof terrace that is perfect for afternoon naps, though the cats prefer to hide beneath it. And in between, I also have my ‘siesta bed’ (which is really just the spare bed that happens to be behind my desk in my office). Once I’ve found the siesta spot that is j-u-u-s-t right, I can usually fall asleep in a matter of seconds. All I need is complete silence – the phone and computer volume must be turned to silent (the ping of an email arriving in your inbox is the easiest way to spoil a perfect siesta in seconds) – a fluffy pillow and some kind of light cover (yes, even in mid-August – it’s like a security blankie thing for me) and I am out like a light. It’s ironic – at night I can find it difficult to fall asleep, with zillions of things whirring around in my brain, and yet by day, even when I have a zillion MORE things going on around me, I have no problem blocking it all out and just letting myself zone out.
I also have no trouble waking up from my siestas – as long as my alarm is set for PRECISELY one hour. Any less, and I am likely to keep hitting the snooze button for the next two hours, and any more and I fall into a super deep sleep that defeats the purpose of napping. But one hour is my perfect siesta time. It refreshes me. It revives me. It relaxes me. It makes me happy! I am also certain it increases my productivity in the afternoon hours. Over time, I have developed the ability to literally sit up, open my laptop and immediately get back to work. Of course, if I have a meeting planned, I’ll freshen up (no one wants to see bed hair) but I always feel motivated to get right back to it. The most difficult thing about having a strict siesta ritual like this is that it’s hard to keep up when you’re travelling. My friends find it bizarre that I can be in another country on the other side of the world and come 4pm, I want to go back to the hotel and hit the hay. But that’s ok – my favourite place in the world to travel to is actually Formentera, where its totally acceptable to siesta daily. I think no matter where I am in the world, for the rest of my life, I will be dedicated to the art of siesta-ing. Siesta forever! Disclaimer: The beautiful siesta spot above are not actually my own. These are the stunning siesta locations within luxury Ibiza villa Can Riviere, found within the White Ibiza Villas collection. I’m just waiting for the day they invite me over to try them all to find the one that is just right!