For those who have ever felt the urge to nap in the middle of their day, Vienna, Austria now offers Reflexia, situated in an old Gothic church and surrounded by Renaissance-era houses. Here nappers can take a half-hour power nap on a leather lounger or a one-hour snooze for 40 euros ($60).
Aside from the well-being a good nap can provide, science suggests napping actually may have quantifiable benefits. Napping may be just the remedy. According to the Mayo Clinic, it ups cognition and memory. It’s been shown to help to maintain optimum weight and muscle mass. Murilo Dattilo of the University of São Paolo found in 2011 that sleep debt leads to an increase in cortisol and a reduction in testosterone and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) — all of which can cause muscle degradation. In a 2012 study, Canadian researchers Jean-Phillippe Chaput and Angelo Tremblay found that sleeping too little promotes hormones that increase appetite, and that total sleep time and quality of sleep predicted the loss of fat in people enrolled in a weight loss program.
In several studies, researchers have shown a link between sleep and productivity. For instance, Mark Suskind and colleagues in 2010 analyzed surveys of 4,188 employees from four companies. The employees were categorized as having insomnia, insufficient sleep syndrome, at-risk sleep, and good sleep. The researchers concluded that adequate sleep disturbances contribute to decreased employee productivity at a high cost to employers. According to the National Space Biomedical Research Institute, inadequate sleep both on and off the ground is correlated to reduced alertness and performance, as well as risk of obesity, pre-diabetic conditions, reduced response to vaccines and changes in cardiovascular functions. According to a 2012 study by Dr. Jeanne Duffy and colleagues at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, participants who received less sleep than other participants in the study were slower to identify relevant information they were tested on.
Reflexia has not experienced a huge amount of business yet — its owner Peter Schurin noted that “Austrians are cautious people. It takes them a while to get used to new ideas.” But this trend may already be catching on in the United States, with Wall Streeters bragging about the increased clarity and productivity they get from power naps. The idea of a nap culture as economic stimulus may seem strange, but it looks like it might not be that far-fetched.