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Hard-working Swiss urged to take siesta

The Swiss are being urged to give their bodies a break

(Keystone Archive)

The first business offering quiet siesta time has opened in the heart of Zurich. Stressed executives can now nap between important meetings at Restpoint, located on a quiet side street near Zurich's main train station.

Stress costs Swiss businesses SFr4.2 billion a year, according to a recent study by the State Secretariat for the Economy. One of the founders of Restpoint, Moritz Lindenmeyer, says stress could be considerably reduced if people learnt more about relaxation techniques.

The benefits of a short sleep during a stressful day are well documented, Lindenmeyer explains.

At Restpoint, the weary executive or traveler can drop his or her belongings at the reception area, pay SFr5 ($3), turn off the mobile phone and receive advice on how to get the most from a cat-nap.

The siesta place offers two rooms, one for men and one for women, each with about eight simple beds. The pale cream and yellow walls and the austere decoration - just a few potted plants - are calming. The aim, after all, is to sleep.

"Your body needs a break every two hours," says Lindenmeyer. "If you don't take it, then sure you can boost your energy levels with coffee or nicotine but in the long-run your level of activity will be reduced."

Lindenmeyer explains that the optimal nap period is just 20 minutes. Otherwise metabolism slows too much and it's difficult to wake up feeling refreshed.

There is no mood music at Restpoint, just the muffled sounds of city bustle.

"We give people the chance to take a break and have a lie down in absolute silence. The colours and the light support relaxation."

The idea of taking forty winks isn't just for tense executives. Students, tourists and drivers are also among Restpoint's clientele.

But the number of people using the facility has been a little disappointing so far, and Lindenmeyer concedes that the idea may be ahead of its time in Switzerland.

"I think the knowledge that it does you good is there," he says, "but I think over the last few months we've seen that the idea of letting yourself take a break isn't quite here yet."

It's a problem that may be alleviated by Restpoint's other role as relaxation consultants. They visit businesses to advise staff on recognising stress and dealing with it.

If the idea does take off, Lindenmeyer hopes to see Restpoints throughout Zurich and across the country too.


By Michael Hollingdale

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