When do the Spaniards go to bed?

The "Commission for the Rationalization of the Spanish Daily Rhythm" has been fighting for 18 years to bring Spain closer to Central European customs. Vain. "We spend far too much time at work, we eat far too late and we sleep far too little," says José Luis Casero. He is the president of the rationalization commission. The Spanish way of life is not conducive to health or family life. It also harms the Spanish economy, says Casero, and sleep deprivation makes people unproductive.

Anyone who remembers their last holiday in Spain knows the phenomenon: when the Central European stomach growls after dinner, the kitchen in Spanish restaurants is still cold. The fact that the daily rhythm of the Spaniards has shifted so backwards is not only due to the southern location. In neighboring Portugal, for example, people have dinner much earlier. In Spain, on the other hand, the appetite does not usually rise until around 9.30 p.m., on weekends often even later. The Spaniards go to bed accordingly late.

In Spain there has been a tattoo from 10 p.m. since the end of October

Or rather: went. Because now the measures to contain the corona pandemic are forcing them to change their habits. In Spain there has been a tattoo from 10 p.m. since the end of October, the exact time is determined by the individual regions. As controversial as imposing a night curfew is, its effect on evening activities is indisputable. Restaurants are open across the country and Spaniards continue to enjoy eating out.

But they have recently had to take their dinner at unheard-of times: Since then, at 8 p.m. or even earlier, you have to occupy a table in the restaurant to be home in time for the tattoo. It's like having dinner in Germany at 4 p.m.

José Luis Casero does not want his commission to be a beneficiary of the pandemic. "Of course some now feel that the government is treating them like small children," he says. Restaurateurs also complain that much less food is being served each evening, even though their restaurants are open all the time. But Casero sees the advantages: "Just as the home office is suddenly gaining ground, other things could change for the better in the long term."

Take the night's sleep, for example: According to the World Health Organization, Spaniards sleep an hour less than other Europeans on average. Experts like the Madrid neurologist Diego García-Borreguero have long warned of the consequences of chronic sleep deprivation. Spain is a country that has always attached little importance to sleep, according to the doctor.

The government is apparently aware of the problem and promised the rationalization commission years ago to Europeanise the Spanish Day. However, they do not want to get too close to the north: The request of some regions to bring the curfew to 8 p.m. due to the rapidly increasing number of infections was rejected by Spain's health minister this week.