The Countries Where People Nap a Lot (Even at Work)

Written by Laura Brooks

  • Spain: The siesta is one of the most notable aspects of Spanish life — a late afternoon break when everything shuts down so people can rest and take a nap. The word “siesta” comes from the Latin hora sexta or "sixth hour" of the waking day.
  • Philippines: Due to its Spanish influence, nap culture lives on in the Philippines. In 2018, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte missed several meetings at a regional summit because he was taking "power naps.”
  • Greece: Naps in the Mediterranean provide a respite from peak sunshine that’ll help to power people for late dinners, a common practice in the region. Known as “or-ess kee-neese e-see-hee-as,” or “hours of popular quiet,” it’s illegal to make noise between 2 and 5 (though that’s typically only enforced outside of Athens).
  • Italy: The “riposo” starts around 12:30pm and runs until 3pm. During this break, businesses shut down, and museums and churches lock up so employees can go home for a leisurely lunch and a snooze.
  • Mexico: Thanks to Spanish influence, Mexicans are accustomed to a 2-3 hour midday siesta that offers a break from the heat and a chance to recharge.
  • Costa Rica: Like many Latin cultures, Costa Rica observes the siesta - many shops, businesses and museums shut down for lunch and a rest (so keep that in mind if you’re traveling there).
  • Ecuador: Especially in small towns, there’s a tradition of closing shop for lunch — but most people use this time to take a rejuvenating nap.
  • Brazil: Known as a “sesta” in Portuguese, Brazilians have been known to take a midday break, and siesta drop-in centers have popped up to accommodate naps.
  • Korea: Starting in 2014, the Seoul city government let its 10,000 employees take an hour-long nap between 1-6pm to improve productivity and combat fatigue. Since then, nap cafes with sleep pods have grown in popularity throughout the country as part of a “fast healing” self-care movement.
  • China: The typical work day starts at 8 or 9am and lasts until 6pm, with a 1-2 hour lunch break that gives people enough time to eat lunch and take a nap.
  • Japan: The Japanese practice of napping in public is called inemuri (居眠り - literally, "present while sleeping") — it’s common to see people napping in work meetings, on public transit or in classes, and it’s widely seen as a sign of a hard worker.

The key to a successful power nap is timing. Too long, and you’re in deep sleep mode, feeling tired and groggy. Too short and it’s not enough. The sweet spot of a power nap is slipping from stage 1 sleep (that ‘drifting off’ feeling) to stage 2 (slowdown of brain activity) — any further and you’ll feel groggy.

As for time of day, let’s just say the “siesta” exists for a reason. An early afternoon snooze recharges you for the rest of the day, without keeping you up all night. (Of course, if you work graveyard hours, the ideal nap time is whatever your “early afternoon” equivalent is).

Try it for yourself