Japan is one of the most prosperous countries in the world, but it’s not without its downfalls. The office hours for the average worker extend far beyond the typical working hours stipulated when they apply for the job. Most people have to work late into the night, without any added pay or bonuses. This means they are only getting home after a very long day slaving over their computers. So, what about their sleep patterns, you might ask? Well, to combat the lack of sleep and the dangers that come with that, an office was designed so its workers could get a little more shuteye each day. This not only creates a better work ethic, but it facilitates a healthier lifestyle.
Overworked and Sleep Deprived
Japan has made a name for itself in terms of its thriving business life. However, this is at the cost of its workers’ precious sleeping hours. Many people are working overtime, which is usually expected but not compensated accordingly. This means late-night commuters have become the norm. What’s worse is the direct effect this has on people’s health. Not only has the term, ‘inemuri’ become a norm in the modern world of Japan, but the term, ‘Karoshi’ is now a standard thing to read in the news headlines.
‘Inermuri,’ is the phenomenon that occurs when someone is overtired. It is when people drift off to sleep in a public setting from sheer exhaustion. We’ve all been there, finding the lull of a bus or train too comforting for words that once we sit down we find ourselves drifting off to sleep. The funny thing is, no one in Japan blinks an eyelid when they see a business person in a suit fast asleep at a coffee shop, or sitting on a train using their briefcase as a pillow. ‘Karoshe,’ on the other hand, is far worse. This is a Japanese term that refers to those who die from being overworked. They are so exhausted their body just cannot function anymore.
The modern world in Japan means you have to work extremely long hours. This takes away from your sleeping hours at night, which directly affects your health. People have reported sneaking naps away from their desks at any moment they have a chance. Some go to their cars and take a nap there. Others are locking themselves in the lavatory just to get some privacy for just a few minutes of shuteye. “In Japan, there are a lot of people who will lock themselves up in the bathroom for a while [to nap], which I don’t think is healthy,” the communications director of furniture maker Itoki, Saeko, said in an interview with Blomberg, told Bloomberg News. “It’s better to sleep in a comfortable location.”
One company in Japan seems to think they have the best solution to everyone’s problems. They have designed what they call, “nap boxes.” These are small boxes where people can step inside and take a nap. There are no windows to let light in that might disrupt your sleep. Moreover, this nap box design is carefully created with support for your head and the rest of your body so you can comfortably sit while you get your power nap.
These designs are not only providing the necessary element for Japan’s white-collar workers, but they are stylish too. They look similar to a water cooler so they will not take away from the interior design of the office space.
Required Amount of Sleep
Amidst this sleep deprivation, health issues are not far behind. The average Japanese businessperson sleeps a mere 7.3 hours per night. But, this suggests that many people are sleeping far less than that. According to Healthline, the recommended amount of sleep a grown adult needs for optimum health is 7-9 hours. Chronic sleep deprivation invites stress, weakens immunity, and heightens risks like diabetes and heart disease. Balancing career and rest remains vital, yet work’s demanding nature causes people to disregard their own health.
- “Offices in Japan to install ‘nap boxes’ so workers can sleep standing up.” NYPost. Theo Wayte. July 15, 2022
- “Why overtired Japan is turning to office siestas.” BBC. Mari Shibata. August 12, 2019.