Napping in the Workplace: Following Japan's Concept of Inemuri

Napping in the Workplace: Following Japan's Concept of Inemuri

You might initially find something wrong with this sentence: Napping in the workplace is an art form. If you live in Japan, this statement is a truism where companies have been allowing employees to nap at work for a number of years now. Over there, it’s called Inemuri. Here in America, it is considered dangerous to let employees nap at work.

But American companies should start giving more serious thought to the idea of napping. Consider some of these statistics about being tired in America and how it’s affecting productivity nationwide:

  • The CDC says that lack of sleep is a national epidemic, and that up to 40% of people in their younger years fell asleep unintentionally during the day at least once in a month’s time. Presumably, this would be at work.
  • Forbes has touted the benefits of the power nap, which doesn’t have to be any more than five to 10 minutes in order to restore your brain to a better function than what it was before.

With those statistics in mind, why should you allow your employees to nap in your company in order to help them feel more creative or productive? Because many careers now require more brainstorming than ever, it’s better to follow Japan’s lead and not place stigmas on what naps can potentially do.

Removing the Stigmas of Napping in the Workplace

Perhaps you’ve frowned upon the idea of seeing your employees dropping off at their desks, mainly because it denotes laziness. It’s easy to create misconceptions about things that look wrong, yet have a lot of things right under the surface. The same could be said of using social media in the workplace where some managers think it’s more of a plaything than a useful tool for employee communication. Likewise with napping, we automatically equate someone sleeping with being a waste of productive time.

While the above statistics about napping likely haunt all managers, there shouldn’t be any panic if seeing an employee napping for a short time. Once you study how the Japanese use napping through their Inemuri concept, you’ll see that they don’t care if someone sleeps right out in the open. Through their philosophy, it’s nearly rude not to take a nap in the middle of an important meeting or during governmental sessions.

Taking on the Concept of Nap Rooms

Recent reports show further evidence of how successful Inemuri is becoming in Japan. Many companies are currently allowing employees to nap right at their desks for up to 20 minutes in order to help refresh their minds. As even the most progressive countries in the U.S. are still not allowing employees to nap at their desks, the U.S. clearly has a long way to go before it catches up with Japan.

This isn’t to say American companies aren’t making some headway in allowing naps in the workplace. The only difference is we haven’t yet warmed to the idea of employees napping at their desks or other viewable area. Instead, companies are creating nap rooms where employees can go and nap for a short duration to keep up appearances.

A nap room is something you might want to consider if you’re sensitive to the idea of an employee being conspicuous while napping in their cubicle. While there’s validity to concern if you have customers going into the office area, consider that employees being forced to make a special trip to a nap room could potentially wake them up before they get there. As a result, the nap could be all for want if they can’t go back to sleep. But it’s still worked for many, including major companies like The Huffington Post:

Other companies have nap rooms with special apparatuses where employees can sleep without being disturbed. Regardless, rules still apply on how much they’re allowed to sleep. You should never allow your employees to sleep more than an hour, or they’ll get into such a deep state of sleep, they’ll still be groggy when they wake up.

Because creative ideas help make or break careers today, having your employees refreshed (especially through the afternoons when drowsiness sets in) can help those careers flourish rather than flounder.

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