ONE SLEEPY little side street in Vienna just got sleepier.

Tucked behind a Gothic church and surrounded by Renaissance-era houses, a new studio is offering deal-makers, movers and shakers and foot-sore tourists respite at a price: a half-hour power nap for e11 (R132).

But Reflexia is more than just a place for shut-eye. The establishment’s thick walls act as if they were made specifically to protect from the outside world, and visitors who cross its threshold are offered soft mood music; a heaping plate of prosciutto with chunky bread; coffee, tea and soft drinks; and a wake-up that is personal – and gentle.

“People know sleep as a need but not as a product,” owner Peter Schurin says. “Our task is to change that in some ways.”

He describes his establishment as “a fitness centre for the spirit”, and his business model might be well-timed, even if the Austrian capital is anything but an edgy city that never sleeps.

Most stores are closed on Sundays. On Fridays, the work day ends at 3pm, judging from the traffic jams. In fact, Vienna regularly tops Mercier surveys as the world’s most livable city in part because of its calm factor.

Still, Austria’s status in Europe as an “Island of the Blessed” is being eroded by the work-related stress common to other Western societies. A study last year estimated that stress-related illnesses were costing the economy e7 billion a year. – Sapa-AP