Being sleepy at work, we all know how it feels. You’re less productive, you feel cranky and at the same time you’re afraid you’ll either start to cry or to yell at the smallest hiccup. If you’re lucky, however, that doesn’t happen all too often and if so, it’s manageable. Yet what if you’re feeling that way each and every day? What if you’re over-worked, stressed and sleepy all the time? If you’d live in Japan, you’d probably be a so-called Inemuro, someone who goes and find a spot at work (often a toilet cabin) to have a little powernap.
Unpaid overtime is a big deal in Japan. According to a study carried out on behalf of the Japanese government in 2016, about 25% of Japanese workers are asked to do more than 80 hours of overtime on a monthly basis. Which translates into about 4 hours a day, meaning you haven’t got much time left in your day to live the rest of your life. Meaning sleep can become quite rare thing. Therefore, many Japanese workers are known to take a powernap at work – mostly in secret, sat on a toilet seat.
Not ideal and so last year, two Japanese companies, Koyoju Plywood Corporation and Itoki, even decided to join forces in order to develop a solution to that problem. They came up with the so-called ‘nap box’, a windowless structure looking very much like a water tank, just big enough for one person to take a nap standing up. With special head, knee and rear rests so they don’t tip over that is, but still.
I think a lot of Japanese people tend to work continuously with no breaks. We are hoping that companies can use this as a more flexible approach to resting.Saeko Kawashima, Itoki communications director told Bloomberg News
The boxes haven’t been commercialised just yet, so if they actually work remains unknown. What’s already clear, however, is that they don’t provide a long-term solution for many Japanese workers’ sleep deprivation, caused by the countless overtime they put in each month. Knowing that the Japanse government has declared its willingness to reduce sleep deprivation by 5% in its new health plan, it seems like there still remains a lot to do in order to reach that goal.