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‘Sleepy Project’ Will Make You Think Twice About Napping on the Bus

From the Subte to the train, nowhere is safe from this Instagram.

By | [email protected] | March 7, 2019 9:00am

Propia_1First ever picture published on Sleepy Project (Photo by Sleepy Project)
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There are Instagram accounts for pretty much all the pleasures in life. Are you looking for eye candy in the form of hot bods? Check. Travel and leisure pics? Check. Food porn? Check, check, check. So it’s only natural that there be an account dedicated to one of the greatest pleasures of all: sleeping.

It’s estimated that, on average, humans spend close to 26 years sleeping and close to seven just trying to get to sleep. Sleep boosts mental health, improves physical abilities, regulates weight, fortifies your immune system… And is also just so damn nice. Fortunately, there’s a guy that understood the need for such an Instagram, and he happens to be from Argentina. Introducing Sleepy Project, the account that will make you think twice about napping on public transportation from now on.

Sleepy Project was the brainchild of an advertising student that, to this day, prefers to remain anonymous for reasons that will become clearer as you read on. “It started in 2015 as an assignment for school,” he explains to The Bubble on a phone call. “The idea was to create an account that had a solid concept and related to people. I was traveling one day on the train and I saw a person sleeping and decided to take a picture and that’s how it began.”

By the time he officially launched the account, he had taken over 30 pictures of people sleeping. Public transportation, security guards, construction workers on the street… Buenos Aires was, to his surprise, quite the breeding ground for capturing sleepers in all their glory. “We all rest in different ways, different places, different moments. I love to sleep, I’m a fan.”

First ever post on @sleepyeproject account. (Photo by Sleepy Project)

As you might imagine, there is obviously an inherent risk in taking pictures of strangers sleeping on the bus, but for the account’s creator, that part of the thrill. “The risk of somebody waking up is always there,” he explains. “If somebody sees you it can generate a very uncomfortable situation. There’s something at stake and that’s part of it’s charm for sure.”

As a result, he became quite skilled at taking undercover pictures, while still striving for aesthetically rewarding results. “As soon as I would get onto the bus or train I would look around to see who I could photograph. Then I would try to find the best angle to take the picture, which seat. Then you sort of learn that you have to wait for the vehicle to stop so that the photo isn’t blurry. It takes some time and it doesn’t always come out right.”

Photo by Sleepy Project

Not long after he began Sleepy Project, the creator started to receive pictures from other Instagram users, all eager to pile on top of this concept. And that’s when the project truly found its footing. “At the beginning I would only thank people, but I wouldn’t publish the images. But at some point I started to receive pictures from such different places and with such wild backgrounds that it got out of hand. It was all very spontaneous.”

Contributions began to flood in from all over: Paris, Tokyo, New York, Madrid, Mexico City. The whole idea took a twist toward the cross-cultural importance of sleep around the world.

By opening up the game, Sleepy Project received a healthy dose of faithful contributors from all over, leading to its creator deciding to remain anonymous in favor of a communal project, with only a handful of people being able to crack his identity in just over four years. “Maybe five or six people know I’m the one behind it, mainly because they studied with me when I first came up with the idea. Once I accidentally uploaded a pic to my personal account, and a couple of friends saw it and discovered me, but other than that I’ve been successful at staying behind the scenes.”

One of the most interesting things about Sleepy Project is that it doesn’t have what you would call a large following (as of right now it sits at 937 followers) but theses results are more by design than one might expect. “I have no idea how to manage a site, the technical things behind it. I don’t have a schedule for uploading pictures, I almost never use hashtags, I don’t follow people, I’ve never paid for advertising. I wanted it to work like a club de barrio that doesn’t pay for star players. People just go, have a good time and stay faithful. Those that follow the account are quite loyal.”

The potential for a massive, viral account, however, are obviously there. He has been approached by several people offering their services as community managers and even a company that builds armchairs, but he has always refused, staying loyal to he principles he holds dear.

“I have a problem, maybe a should go to group therapy. My name is Jopotapa and I’m addicted to taking pictures for Sleepy Project”. (Screen Capture courtesy of Sleepy Project)

Such a quirky account is bound to have strange things happen all the time, and Sleepy Project has enough to fill a stadium. The comment sections of some of the posts are filled with banter between people who have recognized those in the pictures and have tagged them. And then there was that time in a local museum when he witnessed something truly extraordinary. “I saw a person sleeping but I didn’t take any picture. Minutes later I got a picture of that same person I had seen. It was very weird, to be honest.”

In the future, Sleepy Project’s creator wishes to explore the possibility of helping others that suffer from sleep-related problems, although he still hasn’t figured out a way for his account to serve that purpose. For now, he’s happy with having created one of the go-to sources for finding napping people on Instagram, no small feat when you think about it.

Before we hang up, there’s only one thing left to ask: knowing all that he now knows, does he even dare take a nap on public transportation nowadays? The answer is as unique as the project itself: “When I sleep it’s because I would love to receive a picture of myself sleeping one day. That would be my biggest achievement, the account’s zenith, and it would make me very happy. I usually don’t sleep but when I do that’s what I think about.”

Photo by @casagrande.constanza for @sleepyproject

Photo by @daniela.canu.2 for @sleepyproject

Photo by @daniela.canu for @sleepyproject

Photo by @ghawam.sadri for @sleepyproject

Photo by @lumvitale for @sleepyproject