In most countries, sleeping on the job isn’t just frowned upon, it may get you fired.
But in Japan, a nation where people often sleep less than six hours a night, napping in the office is common and culturally accepted. The word for it is “inemuri” which can be translated as “sleeping while present.” And in fact, it is often seen as a subtle sign of diligence: You must be working yourself to exhaustion.
Inemuri has been practiced in Japan for at least 1,000 years, and it is not restricted to the workplace. People may nap in department stores, cafes, restaurants, commuter trains or even a snug spot on a busy city sidewalk. It helps that Japan has a very low crime rate.
Sleeping in social situations can even enhance your reputation. A senior lecturer in Japanese studies at Downing College, Cambridge, recalled a group dinner at a restaurant where the male guest of a female colleague fell asleep at the table. The other guests complimented his “gentlemanly behavior” — that he chose to stay present and sleep, rather than excuse himself.