Getting Rid Of Siestas Won’t Boost Spain’s Productivity. Here’s Why.

The siesta is a time-honored cultural tradition in Spain — one that may soon be taking its place in the history books.

The tradition of taking a three-hour nap in the middle of the day dates back thousands of years, when breaks let agricultural workers avoid being outside when the sun was at its hottest.

But now that most people commute to an office rather than a field, Spanish Prime Minister Marino Rajoy hopes to get the country’s workers up to speed with the rest of Europe, The Independent reported. Rajoy announced over the weekend that he wants to end the siesta tradition, which he believes would boost productivity and modernize the workforce.

The current Spanish workday starts around 10 a.m. Workers break for three hours in the early afternoon and end their day around 8 p.m. If the new proposal goes into effect, the Spanish will adopt a more conventional workday that doesn’t have a siesta break and that ends around 6 p.m.

A parliamentary commission suggested something similar in 2013, according to The Telegraph. “We need more flexible working hours, to cut our lunch breaks, to streamline business meetings by setting time limits for them, and to practice and demand punctuality,” the commission determined.

Reports of low national productivity helped inspire the prime minister’s decision, but will getting rid of the siesta help? Here’s what the science has to say about naps, workday breaks and productivity.

1. Naps do a brain good.

The science is unequivocal: Naps give your brain a major boost and make you more productive. Midday naps significantly boost the brain’s learning capacity, and our brains become more sluggish the longer we stay awake, suggests a 2010 study from the University of California, Berkeley.

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