Siesta fiesta

After living for three months in Madrid, I’m proud to say that there are many things students at the College do better than our Spanish counterparts.  We are more studious, more politically engaged, more outdoorsy and much more facile with balls that aren’t for playing soccer (I imply no innuendo). But there’s one category in which the Spaniards have got us beat, sin duda: sleeping.

The average human spends eight hours per day sleeping, the average male lion spends 20 and the average sloth spends 16. However, the average Spanish teenager, according to a highly scientific study (published in The Onion) spends an astounding 27 hours a day in bed!

And these people don’t just dive into sleep cold – they pregame their naps hardcore. For example, Spaniards are known to get pumped for a siesta with a plate full of ham, a cup of Sangria and a sick Juan Magan soundtrack. These people are pros. And we’ve got a lot to learn from them.

It’s astounding that in a school where perfectionism reigns supreme, no one has attempted to perfect a good night’s sleep. After all, we’ve tried our hand at just about everything else. I mean, look at all the random talents that we honor in club form. We’ve got the fort club, the cake decorating club and that parody a cappella group that used to crash entry snacks with a rousing rendition of “Teenage Dream.” Heck – we even have a club that offers us chocolate and massages when we’re stressed out from all our other clubs.

Really, there’s only one club missing from our impressive list of 148 student orgaizations: the napping club.

If Ephs truly want to fulfill our collective lifelong goal of being the best at everything, we can’t neglect this critical dimension of awesomeness. I’m aware that we rarely waste our time with things we can’t put on our curriculum vitaes – including sleep. But if snoozing took on a more formal character, we might actually do it … and probably come to dominate it in no time.

This hypothetical napping club would meet at least once per week during the regular semester and more (not less) often during finals and midterms. Members would meet in a common space – preferably the Paresky couches – to take a minimum one-hour power nap. This nap need not take place during the traditional afternoon “siesta hour.” In fact, it might be more appealing to take a 9 p.m. homework break or an 11 a.m. post-class crash session.

Naturally, the club would cover the costs of all necessary napping accessories.

This includes snuggies, plush blankets, fuzzy pillows and maybe even those sweet slippers they give you at the Holiday Inn. Every member would receive a personalized sleeping pad and an eye mask to block out light. And perhaps a mini bottle of lavender oil to really help people get into the zzzz-catching zone.

Each napping session would be preceded by a mandatory snack – a throwback to our pre-K days. I’m suggesting that club members pregame our power hour with a few juice boxes, animal crackers, Goldfish and maybe even milk-dunked Oreos.

Of course, every reputable napping club requires a signature soundtrack. Perhaps nature-based noises – such as’s rain music or a nice thunderstorm track – would be nice. Or maybe even a medley of calming classical tunes. And if those relaxing melodies still fail to induce sleep, an iPhone recording of your most boring professor could also suffice.

Some of you probably think the notion of institutionalized napping is, well, freaking absurd. You might be asking yourselves, “Why – of all the wonderful things Spain has to offer – would we highlight an aspect of the culture that glorifies sloth?” You’re probably wondering why I’m not proposing the Flamenco Club, the Paella Club or the Cervantes literary circle.

But really, at the end of the day, the function of extracurriculars should be to help us wind down – not to wind us up. In Spanish culture, students don’t relax by juggling two varsity sports, singing in three performance ensembles, serving on various boards and governments and slaving away at their university’s newspaper.

Instead, they relax with a three-hour lunch break, with a shopping trip or with a new movie. They relax with a glass of red wine, a mug of hot coffee or a cup of gelato. They relax by talking, walking and – perhaps most importantly – sleeping.  In other words, they relax by … relaxing.

What a bright idea. How is it that we – la crème de la crème of American higher education – have yet to catch on to this simple principle? As finals draw nearer, it’s easy to forget, but relaxing requires actual relaxation.  And given the intense stress we’re all under, none of us should feel even a teeny bit guilty for taking a nap every once in awhile to recharge our batteries.

When I return to the College next fall, I hope to find a few kindred spirits within the purple bubble. If anyone’s up for joining a totally awesome club that doesn’t pile loads onto an already full plate, let me know. After all, a short siesta never hurt anyone – but it sure can do a number on stress.


Julia Davis ’14 is an English major from Danville, Penn. She is currently studying abroad in Madrid, Spain.

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