Germans should emulate southern Europeans’ siesta during heat waves, public health group says

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. emulate / ˈɛm yəˌleɪt / (v.) – to make an effort to be like someone else by doing what that person is doing

    He is working hard to emulate the success of his father in managing the business.

  2. spell / spɛl / (n.) – a brief period of time that usually refers to a specific weather type

    They are getting ready for the coming cold spells by preparing food and water for the winter months ahead.

  3. sizzle / ˈsɪz əl / (v.) – to be extremely warm

    The farm sizzles on a hot sunny day.

  4. recede / rɪˈsid / (v.) – to decrease or become weak

    Although food prices have receded, apartment rent prices are still high.

  5. productively / prəˈdʌk tɪv li / (adv.) – in a way that results in, creates, or achieves a lot of something

    The team members are helping each other and this allows them to manage work productively.


Read the text below.

Germans should emulate the southern European tradition of the siesta as a way to support workers during the country’s frequent hot spells, according to the head of an association representing public health officers.

Germany’s health minister reacted positively to the suggestion but said companies and employees would have to decide whether to take it up.

While Germany has avoided the kind of temperatures roasting southern Europe, it has sizzled at times this summer in temperatures in the mid-30s Celsius (90s Fahrenheit). The highest temperature so far this year, 38.8 degrees Celsius (101.8 degrees Fahrenheit), was recorded in Bavaria. Since then, the heat has receded.

Still, this summer’s high temperatures have been enough to prompt the head of the BVOeGD association, which represents public health officers across Germany, to propose that the country rethink its working habits during heat waves.

“We should orient ourselves when it is hot toward the working methods of southern countries. Getting up early, working productively in the morning and having a siesta at midday is a concept that we should adopt in the summer months,” Johannes Niessen told the RND newspaper group in comments published.

“People are not as efficient in strong heat as they are otherwise,” he added. “In addition, bad sleep in the absence of cooling in the night leads to concentration problems.”

Germany has no tradition of the kind of extended afternoon breaks that are common, for example, in Spain.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach tweeted that “siesta in the heat is certainly not a bad suggestion” but signaled that the government doesn’t intend to get involved in the issue.

“Employers and employees should negotiate on that themselves,” he wrote. “Certainly makes sense medically for many professions.”

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Siesta is a southern European tradition. Is there a similar idea in your country? Do you think taking a nap between work helps employees become more productive? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Do you think more employers would do this if there is proof that it can help with employees’ productivity? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • How does the hot weather affect your study/work productivity? Do you find it challenging to concentrate or maintain energy levels during heat waves? Why? Discuss.
  • According to Johannes Niessen, people are not as efficient in strong heat. What measures do you personally take to cope with the effects of hot weather on your productivity and well-being? Discuss.