A decade ago, in the wake of the financial crisis, Spain’s sacred slumber seemed to be under serious threat. Criticism mounted across Europe that Spain’s sluggish economy resulted, in part, from its long lunch break. Worried about being stereotyped as a sleepy, lazy country, Spain has vowed to abolish the nap to increase productivity.

The nap, however, lived on rumors of its demise circulated And now, as Europe has been gripped by more frequent and longer heatwaves, other countries have begun to see the wisdom of the nap, including Germany, where a strong work ethic is valued. sometimes to the point of mockery.

german newspapers was among those who mocked sleep during the economic crisis. But this summer some German officials and labor experts are extolling the virtues of a midday break.

“A nap during the heat is definitely not a bad suggestion,” said Karl Lauterbach, Germany’s health minister, responding to calls this week from top German public health officials to emulate Spain, where many cities still see shops closed and streets empty between 2pm and 4pm.

The heat – temperatures in Germany have been around 90 degrees Fahrenheit this week – is forcing people to rethink their way of life and look to southern countries as examples of how to adapt to rising temperatures.

“We should follow the work practices of southern countries during heat,” Johannes Niessen, the president of Germany’s main national doctors’ association, said in an interview with the RND news site this week “Getting up early, working productively in the morning and taking a nap at noon is a concept we should adopt in the summer months.”

The origins of Spain’s famous nap are a matter of debate. Some say the practice originated in the country’s rural areas, where farmers take a break to prevent overheating during the hottest hours of the day and return to the fields when temperatures cool. Another explanation is that the split day appeared in post-Civil War Spain, when many people worked two jobs, one in the morning and the other late in the afternoon. The nap has characterized Spanish life for decades, although it is less common among many urban Spaniards today.

However, on a recent afternoon in Granada, in southern Spain, many of the city’s shops were closed in the afternoon and locals were holed up in their homes, shutters drawn, as the cobbled streets boiled under temperatures exceeding 90 degrees.

It’s a break that many still love. In 2015, the mayor of a town near Valencia issued an edict urging residents and visitors not to make noise during the nap “to guarantee everyone’s rest and thus better deal with the rigors of summer.”

But the nap has also been the subject of intense ridicule and criticism, especially as Spain struggled to recover from a devastating economic crisis in the 2010s.

Even in Spain, a pro-efficiency movement called the National Commission for Rationalization of Spanish Schedules, which gained momentum after the crisis, claimed that the country could become more productive if it adopted a more regular schedule. In 2016, the prime minister at the time, Mariano Rajoy, tried to reduce the time allowed for the nap to bring the country more in line with the rest of Europe.

The long lunch break has pushed dinner in Spain late into the evening, to 9 or 10 p.m., meaning that Spaniards sometimes eat dinner when Germans are already in bed.

Siestas are used to chill, nap, recharge and eat lunch. And now, with Central and Northern Europe facing the same extreme temperatures that Spain has been dealing with for years, the nap seems like a good idea.

“People are not as efficient in strong heat as otherwise,” said Mr. Niessen, the representative of German doctors.

Several research papers, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, found that napping improves productivity. The benefit of a nap has also been recognized for people’s health. Researchers at the University College of London showed in a to study published last month that regular naps can help protect the brain’s health as it ages.

The team of researchers estimated that “the average difference in brain volume between people programmed to be habitual sleepers and those who were not is equivalent to 2.6 to 6.5 years of aging.”

In recent years, unions in Germany and other northern European countries have called for copying the Spanish model.

Anja Piel, an executive board member of a union representing 6 million German workers, told German media this week that employers should close offices with temperatures above 95 degrees. “Employers need to reduce the burden,” Ms. Piel said.

Catie Edmondson contributed reporting from Berlin and Juliette Guéron-Gabrielle from Paris.

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