Everyday life in our cities is accelerating. A brief reprieve and time-out helps us to alleviate stress and stay cool under pressure. And while many consider siestas a sign of sloth, daytime naps are a natural part of our circadian rhythm. With this in mind, we set out to pinpoint urban spaces and places suitable for a dose of daily shut-eye.
We all know the feeling – tired eyes meet blurry screens, minutes stretching to eternity despite a generous caffeine overdose. Instead of battling acute exhaustion, however, it makes a lot more sense to embrace it.
Throughout history, many great minds were avowed nappers: Take Salvador Dalí, who would retire to his armchair, spoon in hand, once his lids began to droop. The moment Dalí fell asleep, his muscles would relax, drop the spoon and awaken the artist with the sound of impact. “That’s just the right amount of sleep for me,” he stated.
If and when our jobs permit, we should succumb to this urge to rest – according to the latest sleep research since forced wakefulness causes stress that damages body and mind. A short respite, on the other hand, demonstrably improves our reaction and response by 16 per cent and even boosts concentration by up to 35 per cent, according to a NASA study. At the same time, naps should not exceed approx. 20 minutes. Most of all, we should simply allow relaxation to take over – sleep is like a butterfly, alighting softly on a hand. When you try to grab it, it flutters away. So, it makes sense to establish dedicated quite zones to recharge our energy for the rest of day.
For a few pointers on perfect places, check out our quick guide on cozy urban oases.
Parque del Retiro, Madrid. A green classic
Madrid is blessed with a green heart. Right in the center of town, a huge public park awaits the city’s residents. The nation of siesta-lovers flocks to “El Retiro,” as they like to call the former palace gardens, for a generous dose of restoring sleep. In the early afternoon, the park’s meadows and benches fill with city dwellers enjoying their traditional lunchtime nap – a custom that has come under renewed scrutiny and criticism in light of the European crisis. ¡Qué pena!
Capsule hotels & napping salons, Tokyo. Lunchtime with the sandman
The Japanese are known for their self-sacrificing work ethic. They even have a term, ‘Karōshi,’ for death by work-related burnout. In Tokyo, hour-long commutes and 12-hour working days are the norm. So, it should come as no surprise that this nation is also at the forefront of developing powernapping architecture to combat occupational stress. Capsule hotels and napping salons, offering tired heads much-needed rest, have sprung up across all Japanese metropolises. The Japanese way to a productive day.
Sleeping pods and cabins, airports all over the world. International time-out
“Tired managers act like drunks,” states Harvard professor Charles Czeisler. Location-independent professionals, in particular, benefit from dedicated airport infrastructures that counter the effects of non-stop global travel. A welcome wake-up call for business – fresh-faced and relaxed employees literally earn companies money in their sleep.
Google nap room, Google offices. Sleeping on the job
Several companies have upped their game with dedicated rest areas and break rooms for employees. A paragon and pioneer among these progressive corporations: Google with its chill-out areas. The search engine emporium not only offers its employees a huge variety of leisure and sporting activities, but also many laid-back lounges and nap rooms replete with massage chairs and entire aquariums. Sleeping on the job boosts productivity!
Ostrich pillow. Nap wherever you want!
When tiredness becomes overpowering, it is high time to hide your head in – well, not the sand, but a bespoke pillow. The more time we spend on work and on the go, the less remains for refreshing rest. This particular pillow design, courtesy of architecture and design studio Kawamura-Ganjavian, provides restless souls with their very own cuddly private space – anywhere and anytime. The perfect personal shelter for brief breaks.
Text: Sebastian Bührig
Header: Reena Mahtani