Inemuri and Why Japan Encourages Naps

Inemuri and Why Japan Encourages Naps

When was the last time you got enough sleep? If you can’t remember, you’re not alone. You probably can’t remember the last time you napped to make up for it, either.

It might sound strange to include sleep in your beauty routine, but losing too much of it can affect your skin, hair, and overall well-being.

In the United States, you don’t see many people napping in public. You might even drink another large coffee to get through the afternoon without nodding off at your desk. Japan has a different perspective on napping, especially when it comes to inemuri, or sleeping at work. 

What is Inemuri?

In Japan, inemuri literally translates to dozing or nodding off, but in this case, it can also mean “sleeping while present.” It’s a culturally accepted power nap that you can take in the middle of the workday in Japan. Not everyone does it—it’s hard to nap when your job involves operating machinery or physical labor—but you’ll see inemuri in a lot of white-collar office jobs.

While many Japanese companies allow napping at work, part of that stems from how little sleep Japanese people get each night with a national average of around six and a half hours. Inemuri also calls attention to how much Japanese people work compared to people in the US. Napping at work allows employees to catch up on their sleep during the workday to avoid decreased performance and productivity. Some companies have a designated nap room where employees can nap while others nap on the train or at their desks.

Japanese work culture differs from what we see in the US, too. In Japan, employees often work overtime and spend long hours at the office. Combine that with the expectation to cultivate relationships with coworkers outside of office hours, and you’ve got an exhausting day ahead. When you lose sleep trying to keep up with Japan’s work culture, inemuri lets you carve out a piece of your day to regain some energy. 

Is Beauty Sleep Real?

Sleep encourages healthy blood flow, and losing those precious hours of rest can mean you look pale. Dark circles around your eyes become more pronounced, and you’ll often notice a puffiness to your eyelids. Sleep also allows your skin to repair itself, which means that without it, you might even start seeing more wrinkles and blemishes.

It’s not just your skin—sleep affects your hair, too. While lack of sleep decreases blood flow to your face, it does the same to your scalp. As a result, your hair can become brittle, grow slower, and lose its shine. Since less sleep equals more stress, it can even make your hair fall out when your body produces excess cortisol.

You can tell when someone looks tired. It goes beyond the dark circles and dull complexion, and it’s easy to desensitize ourselves to fatigue and overwork. While you can care for your skin and hair with cleanser, toner, conditioner, and even sunscreen in your beauty routine, they’re no substitute for the natural benefits of sleep. Getting enough sleep means looking your best, maintaining energy levels throughout the day, and keeping your whole body healthy. 

Sarah Wood - July 6, 2020

Dayman, Lucy. “Study Shows Japan is Still the Nation that Sleeps the Least.” Culture Trip. Accessed 26 June 2020.

Jacob, Stephanie. “The Truth About Beauty Sleep.” Radiance by WebMD. Accessed 26 June 2020.

“Japanese Firms Starting to Encourage Employees to Take Naps at Work.” The Japan Times. Accessed 26 June 2020.

“Power Napping for Performance.” The Japan Times. Accessed 26 June 2020.

Rousseau, Bryant. “Napping in Public? In Japan, That’s a Sign of Diligence.” The New York Times. Accessed 26 June 2020. 

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