Brazilian Companies Capitalize On Power Naps

Brazil has a reputation for being laid-back but a booming economy has Brazilians working long hours. Entrepreneurs are taking aim at the increasingly stressed business person by selling power naps.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Brazil has a reputation for being, well, laid back. These days, its booming economy has many Brazilians working long hours in high-stress jobs, which has given rise to a new kind of business: selling space to get some shuteye.

Annie Murphy paid a visit to one of them.

(Soundbite of traffic)

ANNIE MURPHY: It's noon on Avenida Rio Branco, one of the main streets in downtown Rio de Janeiro. It's full of people hustling to get a quick lunch with cars and buses careening down the street. The shopping center right in the middle of it all is the last place you'd expect to find a peaceful respite. There are cramped shops and lunch counters, like this one, where people eat greasy slices of pizza standing up.

But there's a simple storefront with white walls and a single vase of greenery called PausaDaMente. It means a break for the mind, and it's peddling just that, in the form of naps.

Jose Paulo owns an insurance company a few blocks away. He's trim, dressed in a navy blue blazer and a striped tie. Jose comes here regularly. He just got out of a 20-minute power nap for 18 reais, or about $10.

Mr. JOSE PAULO (Insurance Company Owner): (Portuguese spoken)

MURPHY: He says the city is really restless. A lot of telephone, Internet, email. This bit of sleep is to relax and recharge batteries.

The owner of the shop, Mahine Dorea, used to be a fast-paced job, too - she was a lawyer. Then she took a trip across Asia with her husband and now business partner.

Ms. MAHINE DOREA (Owner, PausaDaMente): (Portuguese spoken)

MURPHY: She says they saw spots where you could stop and get a quick massage in the middle of the busy day, or catch a nap. It was a whole other rhythm.

After they got back, they opened this business, which is about a year old.

Ms. DOREA: (Portuguese spoken)

MURPHY: She says a lot of people pay attention to healthy food and exercise, but many don't realize sleep is equally important.

Mahine brings me to one of the special napping rooms and shows me how to adjust the dim lighting. You can choose from different colors. I go with green.

(Soundbite of clicking)

MURPHY: She turns on some soft forest sounds and leaves. I lean back in a huge, padded chair. It's a bit like a first-class seat on a plane, but much more comfortable. You just recline, pull up a blanket and sleep. At the end of a session, the lights pulse gently to wake you up.

I'm just finishing up my nap. I went right to sleep, slept for almost 20 minutes. It is very relaxing.

And should you think people who nap are lazy or less motivated, just consider Jose Paulo, the insurance salesman who naps regularly. Right after his session, he called to thank me for the interview and tried to sell me an insurance policy.

For NPR News, this is Annie Murphy in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

MONTAGNE: And this is NPR News.

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