Interesting Cultures: Why Is Sleeping In Public Promoted In Japan

Sleeping in public is promoted and highly appreciated in Japan. As strange as it may seem, a nap is considered somehow a symbol of power in this country.

A study by the University of Michigan, reported by the BBC, highlights the fact that the only country in the world to promote sleeping in public was Japan, even institutionalizing it, under the name of "inemuri".

It's certainly not the fault of time zones. Sleeping in public is still taboo in much of the West, where "culture" enforces a certain behavior and sees it as a sign of weakness to give in to a nap.

However, there is no shame in falling asleep in front of strangers in other countries, where sleep sometimes becomes a necessity because of the climate or at the end of a (usually hot) day's work. Take the siesta in Central and South America, for example.

Japan Is The Only Country That Promotes Sleeping In Public

This phenomenon was documented in a study by the University of Michigan and highlights the fact that the only country that allowed sleeping in public was Japan.

The country with the least amount of sleep in the world has made micro-sleeping in public something of a ritual, going so far as to call it "inemuri", literally "being present while sleeping".

As responsibilities increase, so does the right to sleep where and for how long you want, even at work, at school, at a conference, or on public transport. The important thing is to respect the rules and "govern your posture".
Interesting Cultures Sleeping In Public Promoted In Japan
Picture Credit: footage.framepool.com

A perfectly normal habit, perhaps, because "the pace of work is very hard and people try to rest as soon as possible".


"The Japanese, proud of being industrious and ready to go to the limit of their strength in order to meet the demands of a boss, see it as a sign of weakness to sleep for a long time. Yet they have no qualms about falling asleep in front of everyone," explained Dr. Brigitte Steger of the University of Cambridge.

In Japan, There's Room For Rest In The Workplace

Aware of the problem, Japanese companies have decided to take steps to protect productivity and quality of work.

So, to prevent their own employees from being constantly tired and inefficient, companies are allowing workers to rest at work for 30 minutes in an employee-only room or directly at the office.

The initiative was launched in 2012 by Okuta, a Tokyo-based construction company. The measure, which the company's president wanted, has been a success and inspired other companies to follow suit.
Sleepy Classification

A study published in the journal Science Advances reported on sleeping habits in different countries around the world: what time people go to bed, how many hours they sleep a night, and so on.

For their study, the authors used data collected from an app, "Entrain", designed by Daniel Forger and Olivia Walch's team at the University of Michigan to help people suffering from jet lag consequences, but which also contains an option to share sleep data.

In the world, the Dutch sleep the most (8 hours and 12 minutes), and Singaporeans sleep the least (7 hours and 24 minutes). The people from Switzerland sleep 7 hours 55 minutes, just slightly above average.
Sunlight Makes You Tired

"The differences between the sleep hours of the Japanese, the Dutch, the Italians, seem minimal," Daniel Forger said, but they are actually significant when you consider that every extra half hour of sleep has a tremendous impact on cognitive function and long-term health.

Research shows, for example, that women between the ages of 30 and 60 sleep more on average than men of the same age. Those who sleep less are mainly middle-aged adult men, often less than 7-8 hours a night. Those who spend much of the day outdoors in the sunshine often go to bed earlier in the evening.

In the evening, usually, it is not the body's natural rhythms that decide when to sleep, but social and work commitments, whereas in the morning it is our body that governs the time we wake up.

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