The dream job! Why it’s socially acceptable to fall asleep in Japan – while you’re AT WORK
- Japanese have a reputation for working hard and some only sleep 6 hours a night
- This means that it’s common for people to drop off while at work or on commute
- There is even a Japanese term ‘inemuri’, which means ‘present while sleeping’
Want a dream job? Then perhaps you might like to consider moving to Japan – because it’s a country where falling asleep at work is entirely acceptable.
And the Japanese even have a term for it – ‘inemuri’, which means ‘present while sleeping’.
The nodding-off-on-the-job culture came about partly because of the long hours Japanese workers endure and the fact that many only average around six hours’ sleep a night.
Japanese office workers put their heads on the desk and nap at work. In Japan, nodding off on the job is socially acceptable
Falling asleep in the office in Japan started in earnest during the country’s post-war economic boom, when people were working flat-out to rebuild the country.
It was common to see people nodding off while commuting to their jobs or having to sit through meetings – and it quickly became a social norm.
However, there are rules on inemuri and who can indulge in it while at work.
Dr Brigitte Steger, a Cambridge University scholar, who specialises in Japanese culture, told the BBC: ‘If you are new in the company and have to show how actively you are involved, you cannot sleep.
In Japan many workers only get around six hours’ sleep a night and it’s common to see them nodding off in public
‘But if you are 40 or 50 years old and it is not directly your main topic, you can sleep. The higher up the social ladder you are, the more you can sleep.’
And even if a person is allowed to grab a quick nap at work, the rules of inemuri mean workers must be able to contribute to any conversation when needed, immediately.
Dr Steger added: ‘Your body needs to pretend that you are active in a meeting, like you are concentrating. You cannot sleep under the table or anything. You have to sit as if you are listening intently, and just put your head down.’
However, it might not be long before sleeping at work does become frowned upon.
Commuters catch up on their sleep while on the Tokyo subway
This is because a new system is being developed that can detect snoozers in Japanese offices and blast them with cold air.
Air conditioning manufacturer Daikin and electronics giant NEC have begun trialling a system that monitors the movement of employees’ eyelids with a camera attached to a computer.
The computer can automatically lower the room’s temperature if it detects dozing at desks.
The system uses Daikin’s technology to automatically adjust temperatures and NEC’s facial recognition technology to monitor different types of eyelid movement that suggest sleepiness.
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