Japanese Firms Tackle Epidemic of Sleeplessness on the Job

In an aim to curb an epidemic of sleeplessness, a growing number of companies in Japan are implementing some measures that cost its economy an estimated $138bn (£108bn) annually.

In its effort to prevent sleeplessness on the job, an increasing number of companies in Japan are carrying out some measures that costs its economy some $138bn (£108bn) in a year.

So far, tech startups have been the fastest in addressing the “sleep debt” among irritable and unproductive workers.

Last year, the IT service provider, Nextbeat, even went as far as setting up two “strategic sleeping rooms” – one for men and one for women – at its workplaces in Tokyo. The rooms were aroma-infused and feature devices that blocks out background noise, allowing employees to lie on their back on sofas for an undisturbed nap. But, mobile devices and gadgets are prohibited.

“Napping can do as much to improve someone’s efficiency as a balanced diet and exercise,”

Nextbeat board member, Emiko Sumikawa.

Nextbeat also asked their employees to leave their job posts by 9 pm and prevented them from doing excessive overtime which has been attributed to the increasing number of karoshi or death from overwork.

Also, one company even offered financial incentives to encourage its employees to avoid overtime and get to bed at a reasonable hour. Moreover, the wedding planning company, Crazy, gives reward to employees who sleep at least six hours a night with points that can be exchanged for food in the company’s cafeteria. They use an app to monitor their sleep, and employees can actually accumulate points worth up to ¥64,000 (£458) in a year.

Apparently, Japanese workers have way more reason than most to submit to the urge for a daytime nap whether at work or during long commutes.

In a recent survey conducted using fitness trackers in 28 countries, it was revealed that Japanese sleep on average of only 6 hours and 35 minutes a night – 45 minutes less than average internationally – making them the most sleep deprived across the globe.

The survey also revealed that Belgians, Estonians, Austrians, Canadians, French and Dutch all got a comparatively decent night’s sleep, while Finnish women sleep almost an longer than Japanese, having an average of 7.45 hours a night.

In a separate survey conducted by the health products maker, Fuji Ryoki, it found out that 92.6 percent of Japanese over the age of 20 claimed that they were not getting enough sleep.

Even in companies where employers have not yet officially implementing any measure to curb sleeplessness at work at least know that resting their head on their desk for a few minutes perhaps won’t bring them into trouble.

Generally, companies tolerate ‘inemuri’ or ‘sleeping while present’ as a demonstration of their workers’ commitment rather than as a sign of sluggishness, although nappers should generally remain seated and avoid appearing too comfortable on their sleep.

Also, the government has moved to appreciate both the personal and professional benefits of a well-rested labor force, with the country’s health ministry recommending that all working age people take a nap of at least 30 minutes in the early afternoon. In fact, some of the country’s politicians have already embraced such advice.

Aizelle Joe