There's a Japanese Tradition That Every American Office Needs to Implement Right Now


You've conquered the morning at your desk. You've bought your lunch, and you've consumed it. All the blood is rushing to your stomach. Your eyelids are drooping as you contemplate the long afternoon stretch ahead.

This is the moment when every single office worker in every office in the world craves a little nap. Just a few minutes of rest would allow you to attack the afternoon with all you've got. Chances are, though, napping just doesn't fly in your office. 

Numerous scientific studies have found that short sleeps during the day (between 10 and 30 minutes) improve concentration, ability to learn on the job and focus for a few more hours.

In Japan, this has long been understood. The Japanese can doze off wherever and whenever they like while at work. Inemuri, working yourself to the point of needing a nap on the job, is considered evidence of one's commitment to the job. And it's about time the same is acceptable in American offices.

Inemuri means "to be asleep while present." Like everything else in an office, it is subject to a hierarchy structure. Only the high up or the low down in the office can nap, and they must remain upright so as not to appear slovenly, the BBC reports. 

The situation, of course, is very different in the U.S., where employees work longer hours and take fewer holidays than anywhere else in the industrialized world. We are also sleeping less than we were a decade ago, with researchers citing crammed schedules and stress. 

The medical profession has labeled this modern malaise "tatt," or "tired all the time," according to the BBC. Lack of sleep not only decreases performance in the workplace, but it's also really bad for your health. You're a human being as well as an employee, I promise. 

And it's not just dark circles under your eyes you should be worried about. The Huffington Post used this infographic to explain how a lack of sleep increases your risk of diabetes, obesity, cancer and having a stroke. Combined with the especially long hours employees in America work, you have a formula for illness. 

Image Credit: Huffington Post

While Japan's respect for working yourself to a point where you have to nap in your chair is worrying in itself, at least, when you're at this point, it is acceptable to sleep at work. According to the Bureau of Statistics, the average American work day is 8.8 hours, but unpaid overtime, multiple part-time jobs and the freelance work structure are likely to make that number higher for a lot of people. All the while, Americans need to appear alert and engaged, even when they're not. 

Some executives in America have responded to the conclusive medical evidence in support of office napping. MetroNaps Fatigue Management Solution has provided its space-age energy pods to companies like Google, the Huffington Post, the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball teams and others. The pods look great, and are super comfortable. But, as with many other great things, they are also expensive. 

If America were to follow Japan's lead, there would be no need for expensive sleep pods. A free tool for worker motivation and improved health is already at our fingertips, or should I say, our eyelids.