Japanese firms encourage workers to take nap breaks to fight epidemic of sleep deprivation

Published 08.01.2019 00:00
Updated 09.01.2019 11:11
Employees at Goopal are allowed to take a nap in their seats after lunch. REUTERS Photo
Employees at Goopal are allowed to take a nap in their seats after lunch. (REUTERS Photo)

A growing number of companies in Japan have started a new initiative that provides soundproof rooms for employees to take short naps within work hours to fight against an epidemic of insomnia that costs Japan's economy an estimated $138 billion per year.

The new initiative, which started in small technology companies, is expected to spread to more and more companies, British daily The Guardian reported.

In 2018, IT service provider Nextbeat set "strategic sleeping rooms" for its employees and banned employees from working after 9 p.m.

There are several other practices in Japan that promote regular sleeping hours and encourage workers to take a rest. A company engaged in wedding organizations even gives points to the employees who sleep more than six hours a day. Employees can then use these points and make free purchases from the company's cafeteria. How many hours they sleep can be measured by a mobile phone application they install on their phones. Workers can accumulate points worth as much as 64,000 yen ($589.70) a year.

According to research conducted in 28 countries, the average sleeping hours in Japan is six hours and 35 minutes per day. This is 45 minutes under the international average. In other countries, for example in Finland people sleep for an average of 7 hours and 45 minutes, while average sleep hours in Estonia, Canada, Belgium, Austria and the Netherlands are also above the world average.

The epidemic of sleeplessness and overworking can pose serious threats to Japanese citizens' health, even causing deaths, according to experts.

In July, 2013, 31-year-old journalist Miwa Sado logged 159 hours of overtime and took only two days off in the month leading to her death from heart failure.

The Japanese government supports the companies' decisions regarding the new implementations. The country's Ministry of Health announced that they support all employees to have a comfortable 30-minutes sleep break in the afternoons for the personal and professional benefit of the workforce.

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