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Sleeping rooms, snooze incentives: How Japanese firms are dealing with insomnia

Japan has a term for death brought on by overworking or sleep deprivation: Karoshi.

ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Jun 27, 2019, 07.55 AM IST|Original: Jun 27, 2019, 07.55 AM IST
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Sleep-deprived employees fall sick more frequently or aren’t as productive as their well-rested counterparts.
Japan has a problem sleeping. While doctors worldwide suggest a minimum of eight hours as optimum sleep time needed, the average Japanese citizen is falling short of this by over 36 minutes, a recent survey found. This makes Japan the world’s second most sleep deprived nation, behind only Singapore. So acute is the problem, that Japan has a term for death brought on by overworking or sleep deprivation: Karoshi.

And it’s not just citizens’ health that’s getting ruined in the process; it’s also estimated to cost the economy $138 billion a year, since sleep-deprived employees fall sick more frequently or aren’t as productive as their well-rested counterparts.

To get around this issue, one particular wedding planning company has reportedly offered its employees incentives for sleeping over six hours a night. “You have to protect workers’ rights, otherwise the country will weaken,” the firm’s CEO, Kazuhiko Moriyama, was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.

But others have gone even beyond. An IT services firm, Nextbeat, has set up “strategic sleeping rooms” in its premises, where employees can go take a nap. And to ensure they aren’t distracted while napping, laptops and mobiles are prohibited in these rooms. So you have “aroma-infused rooms” featuring devices that block out background noise, ensuring nothing comes between workers and their sleep. The company has also dissuaded its workers from working overtime and to ensure they leave at the latest by 9 pm.

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