the art of the siesta …. do you indulge?

by Sharon Santoni

woman sleeping on daybed

If there is one thing that says  ‘summer holiday’ to me …it has to be the siesta.   Taking the time to find a place in the shade of a tree, or in the cool of a bedroom with the shutters pulled too, is totally delicious.   To retire with a good book, turn a few pages and offer no resistance as sleep takes hold of me, is a pleasure that I savour.   To doze, even it is for a short while, with the gentle background singing of birds  or the cicadas, chirping in the trees is the most beneficial sort of rest that I know.

In my husband’s family home in a small mountain village of Corsica, the pace of life is never frantic.  The old stone village is on a mountain side, beside the river.  Chores are taken care of in the morning, and the evenings are long and sociable, but during the afternoon when temperatures peak a stillness descends upon the village as neighbours sit beneath the chestnut trees and talk in whispers, or disappear into their house for a few hours.

The siesta is taken quite seriously in the education system too.  When my children started nursery school here, I was surprised to find a pillow and blanket on the list of school supplies.  But for the first two years of their schooling  a sleep after lunch was obligatory, the whole class lying down in a quiet dormitory beside the classroom.  Each child on a small mattress, and possibly in the company of  a favorite teddy bear.

So while I know that there are many parts of the world where the summers are sweltering, I just wonder how widespread the taste for a siesta really is.  Do you think that in today’s super busy world, it is unrealistic to take half an hour out after lunch.  Putting it plainly;  how often do you surrender to the pleasures of the siesta?

The beautiful illustration is a painting called The Siesta, by Frederick Arthur Bridgman

36 comments

Cheryl August 5, 2015 - 2:00 pm

For most of my adult life I have had to avoid naps, because, instead of waking up feeling refreshed, I felt groggy and inert, and nothing more got done that day. Nowadays though, I have come to enjoy an occasional sleep on the sofa midday, and it does seem to recharge my battery. I just received my copy of your book, and am loving it. What a wonderful and original idea you had for it, and the photography is lovely.

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Agnes Baboo August 5, 2015 - 2:25 pm

Oh yes I do !!

Erm… I have to qualify what I’m saying : If I could, I would delightfully indulge 🙂 It’s a kind of “dolce vita”. Whatever some say “siestaddict” aren’t lazy ! Lol

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Karena August 5, 2015 - 3:32 pm

Sharon, sometimes it is the very best thing we can do for ourselves. When visiting Greece in the past it was a daily part of the routine. I think our bodies try to tell us what we need!

xoxo
Karena
The Arts by Karena

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Judy August 5, 2015 - 4:05 pm

We experienced this when in Italy a couple of years ago. I don’t feel so guilty now when I indulge myself. It would be lovely if I could do it in the middle of the work day! Loving your blog! From British Columbia, Canada

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Jeanene August 5, 2015 - 6:35 pm

I love a good nap, although I don’t get one very often. By the way, I just received your new book and I love it! It’s gorgeous, I’ve spent the last couple of evenings reading it cover to cover. Congratulations on a beautiful book and many thanks to your friends for sharing their homes and interesting lives with us. So inspiring!

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Barbara Lilian August 5, 2015 - 6:39 pm

These past weeks have been so hot, it’s definitely siesta time somewhere cool after lunch. But during the winter it’s a comfy armchair with feet up on a stool & a nice soft blanket.

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Leslie in Oregon August 7, 2015 - 8:05 am

I’m with you, Barbara, doing the same both seasons whenever it is at all possible.

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Patricia Cantor August 5, 2015 - 6:48 pm

Naps are de riguer whether at home in the mountains of PA or in St Martin FWI…and always when traveling. Keeps the brain and body fresh, ready for adventure! I cannot imagine not wanting to nap.

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PEGGY BRASWELL August 5, 2015 - 6:57 pm

love a good nap + espically in the afternoon Hmmm xx peggybraswelldesign.com

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Colleen Taylor August 5, 2015 - 7:05 pm

Rarely & I mean rarely do I succumb to a nap. It’s not that I don’t feel I need one, but it usually makes me feel too groggy. I can’t seem to shake that guilty feeling when I do. I know that’s nothing to be proud of but something I need to overcome.

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Susan August 5, 2015 - 7:11 pm

For me, I would love it. But something about my inner clock refuses to allow sleep during the day. Looking at my little cat snoozing right now midday and wishing I could become her. If only for an hour…

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Adele August 5, 2015 - 7:25 pm

Lying on the chaise, listening to the tinkling of the fountain is a wonderful place for an afternoon siesta!

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Von Ann August 5, 2015 - 7:34 pm

I have recently retired and the occasional nap is something I enjoy. I do start out looking through a book and then give in to the sometimes “guilty pleasure”. I have your new book and it is beautiful, haven’t had the time to devour each word, but fully intend to. It is so much more than I had expected and I thank you for sharing your talent. I am in Lubbock, Texas and enjoy catching up with you each day. France is on my bucket list and I am fully loving the French lifestyle. Once again, such a beautiful book!

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Madeline Margraves August 5, 2015 - 7:58 pm

I grew up in the 1950s in Southwest Louisiana. No A/C. Only attic and ceiling fans and lots of trees around the houses. A nap (siesta) was mandatory in the summer. Everyone napped. Even my grandfather, home for lunch, took one. Of course, they were French!
Now, in Houston, even with air conditioning, I still enjoy a nap on a summer’s day. A perk of growing older with no responsibilities except for myself and a good book, to while away a HOT afternoon.
Love your posts Sharon.
Madeline

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Suzanne Cornett Atkin August 5, 2015 - 8:40 pm

I grew up in the 50’s too, in Kansas, on the farm and my Dad had to take a job in town to make ends meet. In the summer when we were home on summer break I saw my Dad come home every day for lunch as no one made a better meal than my Mom. Dad sold appliances and was a very good salesman and used the power of positive thinking in his everyday life. A power nap was what he called it. He would stretch out on the couch for just a half an hour and he was refreshed and ready for the rest of the day. My brother and I would twist is thinning hair into a curl on top and draw a funny mustache and go-tee on him while he slept through it all. Of course, we had farm animals and the chores began before the sun came up and then he was off to work in town till dinner time and then more chores before bed. So you know he valued his naps. I tried to emulate my father in the later years and one of the best examples he set for me was to nap in the afternoon. Sometimes I can’t really sleep, but to just lie down and rest my body was a very good thing for my soul. I think napping must be universal. It’s a very good thing.

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Jennifer August 5, 2015 - 8:59 pm

I come from a long line of nappers. I attempt a nap every day. Sometimes, I just lay down and try to unclench. I have 3 kids at home, and my nap is essential. And something must be working, because despite weighing more than I should, my blood pressure is great, and all systems are a go!

Research shows a nap is extremely helpful. Especially as so many people don’t get enough sleep in the first place. Enjoy the siesta!

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Teddee Grace August 5, 2015 - 9:38 pm

As I have aged I have experienced periods of insomnia at night during which I read and I still arise quite early so now that I’m retired I usually catch up on those hours of lost sleep by reading myself to sleep in the afternoon. It is wonderful and I agree…it is the most delicious of sleeps.

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Susan August 5, 2015 - 10:11 pm

I live in deep South Texas~siestas are mandatory!

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Lin Powell August 5, 2015 - 10:17 pm

I love an afternoon nap on the garden swing with the sounds and smells of summer all around me. I set it swinging and am usually asleep by the time it stops rocking. I especially love the sensation I feel just as I know I am about to drift off…that glorious fuzzy feeling that all is well with the world. And now that I am retired, I no longer feel guilty about taking this refreshing time, just for me, and do so as often as possible, especially in the heat of the summer afternoon.

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Marilyn McPheron August 5, 2015 - 10:44 pm

I grew up on an Ohio farm in the 60’s. My dad always took a nap (30 min.) after lunch. If he was at the house, he stretched out in front of the porch door on the floor and napped. If one of us took his lunch to him in the field, he ate it and then lay down on the ground (usually under a tree) and took a nap. I have always taken a nap at 3 pm…it just seems to be when I need my energy recharged. When I worked, I just shut my door and took 10 minutes. When I wasn’t working and was home with the children in the summer, they took naps with me — in the hammock, on the floor, on a blanket under the tree, in the bean pole tee pee. It was sweet to have them snuggled close even if it was a hot, hot day.

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Vicky from Athens August 5, 2015 - 11:42 pm

I wish I could give in to a daily siesta. Once in a while I’ll grab a “power nap” of about 10 minutes but if I nap longer than that, the afternoon is a waste – I simply cannot get motivated to do another thing. So I’m better off avoiding the nap, finishing the task(s) at hand and just going to bed early. I have to say that I get up around 5:15 in the AM and am walking the dog before 6:00 AM to try to beat the heat and humidity here in North Georgia so naturally I’m ready for an early bedtime!
I have been out of town for a week on a hiking trip and while I was gone my 2 books arrived. I can’t wait to sit down tomorrow while all the dirty laundry is in the wash and look through my copy! I know I will not be disappointed and neither will the recipient (it’s a Christmas gift) of the other book I ordered.
Am so excited to have a look in to the lives of some of your French girlfriends!
Sweet dreams to you!

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franki August 6, 2015 - 12:04 am

Almost always a 20 minute “refresher!” franki

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JudyMac August 6, 2015 - 12:22 am

Most any day I can rock my way to a short catnap in my comfy rocker. Longer, like some of the others’ experience, leaves me groggy upon awakening. For some reason, I now seem to get by just fine on 7 hours at night, so a catnap seems like an unrequired refresher. But the 7 hours may change when winter arrives, when it’s always nice to sleep late while still dark outside.

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Katherine August 6, 2015 - 2:18 am

I used to take time for a nap on the weekend to help me refresh and catch up from a hectic week. But I find now there is never time for a nap and literally schedule it if I’m having insomnia – it helps break the pattern.
My man – well he could fall asleep on a clothesline and takes regular naps.
You described the journey of a nap perfectly. Ahhh!

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Margaret Medaris August 6, 2015 - 7:06 am

Just woken up from my Nana nap (as we call it here in Australia) feeling great.Absolutely love your blog, a great source of enjoyment

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Felicity Lock August 6, 2015 - 7:39 am

First, who painted this beautiful painting? It is stunning.

Never feel guilty about napping. We demand so much of our bodies, they need refreshing – us girls know ourselves oh so well.
Sadly, I cannot receive your book until sometime next month as I live in the UK.
Can’t wait – your videos show what extraordinary women they are and so chic.
Don’t want your story to end!
Thank you for your special block Sharon.
Felicity in Arundel x

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Marian from UK August 6, 2015 - 6:29 pm

Hi Felicity! I’m so pleased to find another Brit reading Sharon’s blog! It’s not always clear where people come from, but there are so many from the US, it’s good to see the UK represented! Pity that being so near we have to wait so long for Sharon’s book! But it’ll be worth it I’m sure. As for naps – no time now I’m retired!! Have a lovely day.

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[email protected] August 7, 2015 - 6:41 pm

lovely to have your message Marian.
Don’t want to retire – have been lucky to have designed interiors for 34 years and now have a new career drawing. Had my first show last year and sold – such a surprise!
Life is full and fun.
Really look forward to Sharon’s book even though we have to wait so long.
Patience is over rated!
Kindest wishes,
Felicity
FelicityLock.co.uk

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Sharon Santoni August 7, 2015 - 8:32 pm

oops! Thank you Felicity, I forgot to credit the illustration, isn’t she beautiful! Its by
Frederick Arthur Bridgman, The Siesta

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FelicityLock August 6, 2015 - 7:41 am

Oops, should of read blog Sharon!

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[email protected] August 6, 2015 - 10:03 am

To be honest the only time I seem to manage a sleep in the afternoon is when on holiday. Regardless of the scorching summer heat Melbourne never seems to stop. Oh for retirement!

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Our French Oasis August 6, 2015 - 11:10 am

I have never slept during the day, even when the children were tiny babies. However, the luxury of sitting down with a magazine for an hour in the shade on a hot sunny afternoon for me is just as beneficial. It recharges my batteries and I feel totally renewed afterwards, amazing that it should have such an effect, but it does!

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theycallmemommy August 6, 2015 - 1:48 pm

What a gorgeous painting and I love this post. I guard down time like this in our family as it is SO easy to get caught up in crazy schedules. I love that you shared the slower pace of your area. I do not see much of this in the US. I personally adore afternoon naps and need to get back to having that quiet time here for all of us…

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Marilyn August 7, 2015 - 2:41 am

Rarely do I succumb to siestas. I am always afraid I won’t sleep at night if I do. It does sound delicious. Oh my your stories do have my mind wandering what it would be like to suddenly have a house in France. What fun fantasies.

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Holly August 7, 2015 - 1:48 pm

Recently read The Blue Zones and when it mentioned the afternoon siesta is very common amongst centenarians, I found the validation I needed for a nap. Only find the time on the weekends but I love my naps with my Yorkies at my side blissfully snoring away.

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Bebe August 10, 2015 - 1:48 pm

My late Mother was the master of the nap. She could not have managed without one. Taking care of two households – our grandparents and ours – up at 6:00 ironing – going full bore all morning and through lunch. By 3 she was ready for a nap and then freshening up for dinner.

A very Type A CEO I used to work for took a 10 minute “power nap” in his office every day.

Until the last year or so I could never pull it off. But now I turn a naturally sleepy time after lunch into a lying down reading time which usually leads to at least a brief sleep. I think it is a good thing…

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