An unemployed Ecuadorian man has won Spain’s first ever siesta championship. The 62 year old claimed the €1000 prize money after managing to fall asleep for 17 minutes in a busy Madrid shopping centre.
The competition which ran over nine days came about following fears that the famous Spanish siesta was becoming a thing of the past with today’s longer working hours and hectic lifestyles. The siesta is a Spanish tradition that sees people take a rest at mid day. It is thought to have originally come about for two reasons, one is that Spaniards traditionally ate a large family meal at lunch time and needed an hour or two to let it settle, and the other was to allow them some respite from the searing heat of the mid-day sun. As times are changing, people are seeing less and less of a need to take this afternoon rest and the competition organisers’ fear it will become a forgotten institution.
Competition spokesperson, Andres Lemes announced, “People are stressed out they can’t take siestas any more. Studies show it’s a healthy practice that recharges your batteries.”
Contestants were timed by a doctor with a pulse-measuring device which monitored how long they slept, with extra points awarded for snoring, unusual pyjamas and strange sleeping positions. Some contestants arrived with cushions, blankets and even their favourite teddy bears.
Second and third places in their individual groups went to two American students studying in Madrid, who had read about the contest on the internet. Asya Kislyuk from Indianapolis said “I think I fell asleep, but someone kept kicking my couch. We will now go forth to be the ambassadors for the siesta.”
Lopez was delighted to have won saying “My wife made me do this, but then they couldn’t wake me up. Naturally, the lunch I had before with the seven euros they had given me helped.” He added that he was highly delighted to be the first champion.