In most countries, sleeping on the job isn’t just frowned upon, it may get you fired.But in Japan, napping in the office is common and culturally accepted. And in fact, it is often seen as a subtle sign of diligence: You must be working yourself to exhaustion.
The word for it is “inemuri.” It is often translated as “sleeping on duty,” but Dr. Brigitte Steger, a senior lecturer in Japanese studies at Downing College, Cambridge, who has written a book on the topic, says it would be more accurate to render it as “sleeping while present.”
That, she said, captures Japan’s approach to time, where it’s seen as possible to do multiple things simultaneously, if at a lower intensity. So you can get credit for attending that boring quarterly sales meeting while also dreaming of a beach vacation.
Inemuri is most prevalent among more senior employees in white-collar professions, Dr. Steger said.And more:
Sleeping in social situations can even enhance your reputation. Dr. Steger recalled a group dinner at a restaurant where the male guest of a female colleague fell asleep at the table. The other guests complimented his “gentlemanly behavior” — that he chose to stay present and sleep, rather than excuse himself.
The article even makes me feel better about whether I am getting inadequate sleep now. If the Japanese have longevity, then their being well rested would seem not to be part of the explanation:
One reason public sleeping may be so common in Japan is because people get so little sleep at home. A 2015 government study found that 39.5 percent of Japanese adults slept less than six hours a night.
What a great country...An unwritten rule of inemuri is to sleep compactly, without “violating spatial norms,” Professor Bestor said. “If you stretched out under the table in the office conference room, or took up several spaces on the train, or laid out on a park bench,” he said, that would draw reproach for being socially disruptive.