A Spanish entrepreneur is cashing in on a sleepy tradition

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

Unlike the United States, the Spanish civilization has been around since the Middle Ages and when you’ve been around for that long you learn a thing or two about living. You appreciate good food, good wine and, most especially, a good nap. That’s a big reason why the afternoon siesta is still a popular tradition even in today’s fast-paced world. In many Spanish cities, work (and life) shuts down for a few hours every afternoon so that people can recharge.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Spain’s larger cities–like Madrid. There, where big companies like HSBC, Google and Deloitte have offices, the work is faster paced with higher stress and a greater demand to keep up with other non-siesta European cities like London and Paris.How bad have things gotten in Spain?  So bad that, as reported by Bloomberg, Spaniards racked up 1,695 hours at work last year, which was more than Germany and France, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Now there’s one smart entrepreneur that wants to turn this trend around and bring back the siesta. Oh, and profit from it too.

Maria Estrella Jorro de Inza, 32, is the owner of Madrid’s latest and greatest start-up–the Siesta & Go.  Located in the heart of the city’s business district, Siesta & Go is a “nap bar” with 19 beds that each come with fresh sheets, earplugs, slippers and a coffee area to “freshen up.”  The cost? Just 14 euros ($16). Since it opened in May, de Inza’s business has attracted about 30 people a day (mostly junior employees in their 20s and 30s, and men in their 50s) and she’s considering an extension of hours due to demand.

De Inza’s business is topical. There is a national debate underway in Spain to change the country’s time zone to be more aligned with Portugal and the U.K.. Some experts believe that the longer hours that Spaniards must put in to stay current with Germany and Italy are not only contributing to lower productivity but even a reduced national birthrate (everyone’s just too tired to do anything at the end of the day).

“It’s funny that [Spain] is known for the siesta, but we haven’t been professional about it,” de Inza told Bloomberg. Let’s hope her business turns out to be a sleeper success.


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