Whether it_s a siesta to improve your salud after a non-stop morning haul or just a cup of tea to get through the last few hours at the office, we all engage in a number of daily rituals to initiate a second wind. But where do these rituals come from? Have they helped, do they help, and which one is right for you?
To make it simple from the get-go, I_ll start by saying that almost all techniques fall into two categories: energy-injection via caffeine or other stimulant, or recharging via brief bouts of sleep.
Which one the majority of any given society prefers is typically a matter of culture and even cultural bias.
Can you guess the drug with the highest usage rate in North America? It_s caffeine, with 9 out of 10 individuals consuming it daily. The United States in particular runs on caffeine, with 18 billion dollars being brewed into the coffee industry by American consumers every year. Staying alert with the use of coffee is an American tradition almost as old as the country itself, popularizing not long after we gave tea the proverbial boot. We_ve been a nation reliant on caffeinated beverages ever since.
This helps make sense of not only our massive amount of caffeine consumption, but our utter disregard to the alternative. Americans culturally see hard work and long hours as a bit of an obligation, in accordance to the level of energy output that historically occurs here. If the last six generations have established their benchmarks on the following based on high caffeine consumption, it_s easy to see where it became a part of the working American identity.
The afternoon nap is an energy replenishing technique popular in Latin American countries that originated in Spain. Known popularly outside of the Latin world as "siestas", these naps are traditionally after the lunch hour meal when the day is its hottest, and lasts for 20 to 40 minutes. Studies tend to show that increased napping, as long as it doesn_t exceed an hour, can increase someone_s productivity significantly in as quickly as the workday the nap was taken.
But to most people in the working world, especially in America, even 20 minutes spent sleeping sounds like a waste of time, and more importantly a user of time that could be spend doing the actual work. America_s dedication to coffee and other caffeinated beverages as well as its sentiment toward an honest day_s work for an honest day_s pay tend to inhibit any attempt at increasing the popularity of this option.
It shouldn_t be taken out of the equation though. Many fields in America, especially high intensive labor and other work that_s outside an office, would do well to integrate an afternoon nap into their work routine. They are after all the workforce it was designed for; people who needed to avoid the worst part of the day and did so by sleeping through it, getting a second wind and wrapping up the day_s work after the temperature had cooled.
But don_t forget about the easy ways to squeeze some more energy out of yourself that don_t require either the addition of drugs in your diet or the loss of quality work time (and inevitably getting up earlier or working later) by submitting to midday slumber. Try simple things like stretching or engaging in an activity during your lunch break even if it_s just walking through the closest park to your office.
You might find out that getting through the day isn_t so hard after all.