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Sleep Contest at Spain Shopping Mall Prevents Siesta Extinction

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In The News

A shopping mall may not be the most typical spot for catching some winks—but that’s where Spain chose to hold, of all things, a sleeping contest. The country’s afraid that demands of modern life could cause siesta extinction—so National Association of Friends of the Siesta is giving away money to promote the “cause” of sleep.

The sleeping event’s being billed as Spain's first-ever siesta competition. The sleep event's goal, to preserve Spain's cherished post-luncheon nap known as the "siesta", is no joke. The country fears that busy work schedules and trash tv are propelling the siesta toward extinction. The contest involves a nine-day “snooze-off”--complete with competitors toting stuffed animals and pillows, while a young and sober-looking judge presides over the event in a T-shirt emblazoned with "ZZZ". Yes, the siesta event's judge is perched high atop a lifeguard's chair.

Groups of five contestants had just 20 minutes to lie down on blue sofas, a doctor “bedside” with a pulse-measuring device to calculate length of snoozes for individual sleepers. Unlike being at home, extra points for awarded for snoring and attainment of weird sleep positions.

Sofas are lined parallel, in numbered lanes—pretty much like a track meet--with eight sleeping “rounds” per day for judgment.

Winner of the first round: a portly construction worker, 47-year-old Fermin Lominchar, who was timed at sleeping 18 of the 20 minutes available—confirming the suspicion homeowners have held for years. "I just conked out. No problem whatsoever," he says.

The contest is run by the newly-formed National Association of Friends of the Siesta organization, and sponsored by the Islazul shopping mall in Madrid's Carabanchel district. Grand prize of about US $1400 will go to the contestant with the most points at contest end, on October 23.

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