In 1980s, corporate culture the world over embraced a simple and effective technique for combating fatigue – the power nap.
According to Wikipedia, a power-nap is a short sleep that terminates before the occurrence of deep sleep or Slow-Wave-Sleep (SWS), and is intended to quickly revitalize the subject from drowsiness.
The term was coined by the famous Cornell University social psychologist, Dr. James Maas.
Although they may not taste as good as a Starbucks double mocha latte, there is no denying that power naps are an extremely effective way to combat fatigue and increase performance.
Sadly, few workers in corporate America would feel comfortable resting their head on the keyboard at work, though things are all together different in Japan.
Not only is power napping completely acceptable in Japan, it’s actually encouraged by employers.
In fact, there is even a specific term to describe this practice, namely inemuri ( ????????) or literally “sleeping while present”.
And here’s the best part…
Since you spend so much time in the office that you can’t ever get a normal night’s rest, inemuri shows employers how committed you are to the job!
Surprised? So was I, though hopefully this post will help clear things up a bit!
For starters, why exactly are power naps so effective?
According to American sleep expert Dr. Sara Mednick, regular power napping is a “lifesaving habit that can help improve your health and sex life, slim the waist and boost work performance.”
In fact, a 20-minute nap can give you an amazing energy boost, even if you just close your eyes and allow your mind to take a rest.
So, if power naps are such an effective tool for increasing efficiency, than why is the practice vilified in the West and revered in the East?
Although at first it may sound completely counter-intuitive, in Japan a person’s commitment to work is judged by the frequency in which they engage in inemuri.
Since the need to indulge in inemuri is the result of working hard and sacrificing sleep at night, Japanese employers feel that it is one of the best indicators of job performance.
(Believe it or not, some Japanese people fake inemuri to score extra brownie points with their boss!)
According to Dr. Neil Stanley, a sleep expert at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in the UK, “The Japanese are right in their assessment that you work better after a nap than before it.”
He continues: “There’s a degree of machismo about it, you’re saying look how hard I’ve worked. But that’s better than the macho rituals we have over here, like how late you can send a work email to prove how long you’ve been working.”
Of course, there are strict rules to inemuri.
For instance, only those high up or low down in a company are allowed to nap at work. And, you must remain upright at all times, which shows that you are still socially engaged.
So, the next time you’re caught getting some shut eye at work, just tell your irate boss that you weren’t napping, but rather practicing the sacred Japanese art of inemuri.