Mid-day naps, uniquely Vietnamese

Have you ever been to the fair?

I’m talking about one with a Ferris wheel, cotton candy, and rows of sideshow games.

My favorite personal favorite is Whac-a-Mole where little heads pop up and down growing in numbers and speed.

That game came to mind the first time I walked into a darkened Saigon office at the end of the lunch hour.

Thinking it was empty and someone had forgotten to lock up, I turned to leave and bumped a trash can.

One head popped up from behind a desk.

A second head shot up, followed by a third and so on.

I’d Whac-a-Moled the entire office.

It wasn’t the best first impression.

Midday naps are hardly unique to Vietnam.

Spain has their famed siesta.

In Bangladesh bhat-ghum translates to “rice sleep.”

Full bellies result in heavy eyelids I suppose.

When you add it all up, afternoon naps are embraced in countries throughout South America, Europe, and Southeast Asia.

I talked with two Vietnamese career women about the tradition and its roots.

Nguyen Thi Huyen Trang’s employer is foreign and while she doesn’t nap at the office, she’s no stranger to the tradition.

She attributes it, in part, to the heat of the afternoon.

She also believes employers know workers will wake up refreshed and will work harder and more efficiently the rest of the day.

One of her co-workers, however, looks at it as more of a cultural tradition than a practical one.

“Maybe people are just lazy,” the colleague joked.

Some in my home country of America likely are.

However things may be changing.

Big name companies like Nike, Google, and Ben & Jerry’s not only encourage napping, they provide quiet rooms and in some cases comfy couches and chairs.

The ability to nap during work is viewed as a perk of the job, right alongside quality health insurance and extra vacation time, but it also benefits employers.

Studies show a quick 26 minute nap can result in up to a 34% increase in performance and raise alertness by 54%.

Vietnam may have had it right all along.

I know personally of the beauty of a mid-day nap.

During college I spent a summer studying in southern Spain.

At first the idea of stopping in the middle of the day for a siesta seemed like a waste.

I always had a list of things to do and sleeping was a luxury for which I didn’t have time.

But checking off that to-do list during siesta proved impossible.

Banks, restaurants, shops, and offices were all closed.

I quickly realized there was nothing to be gained by fighting tradition.

It was time to follow the crowd.

“If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you too?” nagged the voice inside my head.

If there was a soft bed with pillows at the bottom, yes.

Yes I would.

And so I did, with every siesta making me feel more and more like a true Spaniard.

It was a dream come true.

By SARAH DALLOF

Source: Tuoi Tre Online

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