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Dream Job: Buenos Aires Experiment Puts Sleeping Skills On Display

An experiment in the Argentine capital sought to find out why some people sleep so well. Two young people stood out from the rest thanks to a certain inner tranquility and routines that get them in the snoozy mode. Next thing you know, they're out...

Photo of ​Chiara Torruella, 19, sleeping in a store

Chiara Torruella, 19, taking a nap in a store

Javier Firpo

BUENOS AIRES — Chiara and Kevin have an unusual, and occasionally very useful, talent: the ability to doze off at the drop of a hat. Their enviable ability even earned them a little job consisting of, well, sleeping.

I watched them sleeping in two large beds inside a shop front on Godoy Cruz, in the Palermo Hollywood district of Buenos Aires. Chiara Torruella (19) and Kevin Raud (27), both about to graduate as systems engineers, were asked to take a nap there at exactly half-past-three in the afternoon.

They duly dozed off within minutes, in spite of the noise outside and gawking passers-by. Kevin called it a "dream job." Yes, they got paid to sleep.

Inner tranquility is key

Chiara and Kevin were chosen from among 15,000 candidates who applied online to participate in an experiment conducted by Calm, a business that creates sleep-aid applications. Calm offered 10,000 pesos (almost 60 euros) for sleeping.

Though they had never met, an hour before starting, Chiara and Kevin were chatting like friends. They both give off laid-back vibes, and they were chosen precisely for "the quality of their sleep."

According to the campaign's organizers, "they met our requirements from the start."

"The truth is we didn't hesitate, " the organizers said, "because as you can see, they have an infallible method of falling asleep. And we saw pictures from their past where they're seen dozing off in the most unlikely places."

They attribute their easy sleeping to "an inner tranquility and peace."

When I learned about the proposition, I just knew, 'this is for me.' I fall asleep so easily, whatever the surroundings," Chiara says. "It's happened to me on a boat, at university, at a shopping mall. I'm a specialist in napping. I do it every single day."

Kevin says he is a "laughing stock" to his friends. "I'm the meme. They constantly make fun of me, because at any get-together, whatever the time, I fall asleep. It happens when I'm sitting, standing, in a pool or rock climbing."

Kevin, who was born and raised in Villa La Angostura near the Chilean border, traveled especially for the dreamy initiative. Chiara came from much closer--from downtown Buenos Aires. Both attribute their easy sleeping to "an inner tranquility and peace," which they say is a "complicated trait these days." Asked if they feel the pressure of modern life, they say, "we have a lot of happiness to help us adapt."

Photo of a man sleeping with a friend smiling next to him

Kevin is in dreamland, and his friend is having a laugh.

Bedtime routine

Calm gave the participants pajamas, slippers and an Apple Watch to measure their sleep modes, breathing rates and oxygen rates in their blood at different moments, all quality of sleep indicators.

Once in their shop-front beds, the four settled in as best they could. Kevin donned earphones and within five minutes was as dead to the world as a corpse -- bar the snoring and hugging his pillow.

Chiara chose her nightly method of counting down from 100. "I am usually asleep before I reach 70," she said, but not this time. She took out a sleep mask before starting to doze off, though, with an apparent eye on passers-by taking a peek at the strangest of shop displays. Some couldn't believe the assignment: "10 grand for an hour-long nap?"

We're not used to being woken from a nap this way.

In time, evidently, both fell asleep. No tricks here. You could see it on their faces. In the 66 minutes they spent in bed, Chiara went into deep sleep for 33 minutes, her pulse went down from 110 to 79 at the most restful point, and she breathed 15.5 times per minute. Kevin rested this way for 44 minutes, his pulse went down from 105 to 73 and he took 16 breaths a minute.

A vibrating alarm marked the end of their time, as I observed to see if either was overdoing it. The pillow had left a mark on Chiara's healthy cheek, and she was a little grumpy at first. Two people had to wake up Kevin, who already had bags under his eyes. As they stretched, one said "we're not used to being woken from a nap this way."

Once awake and after a snack, they filled in a questionnaire about their experience. They were then paid and had no qualms counting the bank notes. "It's money well earned and already spent on the plane trip," Kevin said. Chiara said she owed a bit "to the university," and would spend the rest with her friends.

So what sets Kevin and Chiara apart from the rest of humanity and makes them connoisseurs of sleep? "We were born to take naps," said Kevin smiling, and have "proven experience" there. He added, "I'm just a sloth and enjoy sleeping, practically without wasting time."

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Onur Dogman/SOPA Images via ZUMA
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