Exploring Inemuri, The Japanese Custom Of Falling Asleep At Work

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Exploring Inemuri, The Japanese Custom Of Falling Asleep At Work

If you fall asleep in your work consistently, then there is a good chance that the boss or management isn't going to be happy with it. But that isn't necessarily the case in Japan, where it is a common occurrence. In fact, they even have a special name for it, 'inemuri', which literally means 'sleeping while present'.


Japan has long been famed for its hard working culture and the Japanese people are some of those most sleep deprived on earth, sleeping just 6 hours and 35 minutes each night on average. Therefore, it is no wonder that the sight of someone sleeping in public parks, public transport and even the workplace is frequently observed.


The habit was created from the post-war period onwards when Japanese workers began cramming in a huge number of hours and then falling asleep whenever they could get the chance, the widespread nature of napping became so common that it became socially acceptable. Some managers even regard it as a sign that a worker is working very hard and have worked themselves into exhaustion.


Dr. Brigitte Steger, of the University of Cambridge, who studies Japanese culture, told the BBC:


"I first encountered these intriguing attitudes to sleep during my first stay in Japan in the late 1980s. At that time Japan was at the peak of what became known as the Bubble Economy, a phase of extraordinary speculative boom. Daily life was correspondingly hectic. People filled their schedules with work and leisure appointments and had hardly any time to sleep."


She does, however, go on to say that inemuri is far more acceptable for those who have spent a long time at the company and that you should definitely not be sleeping on the first day of your new job! She added:


"If you are new in the company and have to show how actively you are involved, you cannot sleep. 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."


You are also expected to sleep at your desk, so that you are available when needed, so no putting hammocks up and kipping down for a few hours.


The phenomena of sleeping in the daytime is common in some countries, though becoming less so with the rise of modern culture, particularly in the Mediterranean where Spaniards go for a 'siesta' and Italians go for a 'riposo'. Both are day-time naps that emerged in the days before air-conditioning and when much work was carried outdoors and was impossible in the mid-day sun.

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Thinking Humanity: Exploring Inemuri, The Japanese Custom Of Falling Asleep At Work
Exploring Inemuri, The Japanese Custom Of Falling Asleep At Work
If you fall asleep in your work consistently, then there is a good chance that the boss or management isn't going to be happy with it. But that isn't necessarily the case in Japan, where it is a common occurrence. In fact, they even have a special name for it, 'inemuri', which literally means 'sleeping while present'. Japan has long been famed for its hard working culture and the Japanese people are some of those most sleep deprived on earth, sleeping just 6 hours and 35 minutes each night on average.
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