Inemuri: sleeping workers in Japan

Inemuri: sleeping workers in Japan

Falling asleep at work could be a reason for dismissal, or at least, cause for a touch of attention. However, in Japan it seems to be the opposite. In Japan, falling asleep at work is a very good sign, because it means that work dedication is such that exhaustion is reached and, as a consequence, sleep appears. Workers who fall asleep at work are known as inemuri. Although they see it as something positive, is it really a good thing?

The customs of other countries may surprise us. Cultural differences, no doubt, often enrich us, but are they all positive? Falling asleep at work, in many countries could be interpreted as a sign of labor exploitation, but in Japan it is highly valued. To what extent should a tradition be maintained? Is it convenient to review those behaviors that, although accepted, can affect us negatively? Let us begin!


  • 1 Inemuri, the worker who sleeps at work
  • 2 Inemuri, a harmful practice
  • 3 Times change

Inemuri, the worker who sleeps at work

Inemuri It is a Japanese concept that refers to the worker who falls asleep in his workplace. Inemuri, means "sleep while one is present." This practice is well seen by bosses and supervisors. Falling asleep at work is a laudable act, as it demonstrates the fatigue that the worker has accumulated after having devoted himself exclusively to work for hours. The inemuri, It is considered as the consequence of an absolute dedication to work, so both bosses and supervisors take it into account.

However, for this practice to be viewed with good eyes, the worker must fall asleep in his workplace, never resting somewhere. If he inemuri He falls asleep in his work chair only means that he has taken a break and can return to his work at any time. Is more even some workers pretend to fall asleep to be considered by their bosses. By becoming a sign of great dedication to their work, the behavior of falling asleep can be simulated with the sole purpose of creating a reputation for a hard worker.

Inemuri, a harmful practice

To what extent can a well-accepted social and labor belief harm us? Definitely, work so hard until you fall exhausted from sleep. Sleep disturbances, lack of rest and a lifestyle full of stress and anxiety at work, sooner or later, can cause various pathologies. It is therefore necessary to review some of the consequences that sleep disturbance can cause.

The National Sleep Foundation ensures that for young adults (18-25 years old) and middle-aged adults (26-64), "a daily sleep duration of 7-9 hours is recommended. It has been found relationship between short-term sleep and the presence of daytime fatigue, psychomotor involvement, accidents, deterioration of physical and psychological health and poor academic or work performance ". Article "Healthy sleep: evidence and action guides. Official document of the Spanish Dream Society" (2016) affirms that apart from the previous consequences, chronic sleep deprivation also produces metabolic, endocrine and immonological changes.

The Spanish Sleep Society also notes that "there is increasing scientific evidence that lack of sleep leads to glucose intolerance and diabetes, increased sympathetic nervous system activity and hypertensionn, or reduction in leptin secretion and obesity. " Lira and Custodio (2018), state that there is evidence that lack of sleep makes memory consolidation difficult while impairing memory performance the next day.

The times change

Although the inemuri are well seen in Japan, times are subject to change. Working life in Japan is so important that it has caused depression and even suicides. It is a problem that has not gone unnoticed and that seeks to put some kind of remedy. Even so, a profound change of mentality is important so that phenomena as they are more controlled. A society that prioritizes work to the point of falling asleep, is a society that needs a reflection on its priorities.

All the psychological and physical consequences of this lifestyle, highlight the dysfunctional of this practice. A practice that undoubtedly significantly worsens the quality of life of its protagonists. It is therefore necessary to reconsider some cultural aspects that can drag a large number of people to have a psychologically and physically unbalanced life.


Lira, D. and Custodio, N. (2018). Sleep disorders and their complex relationship with cognitive functions. Journal of Neuropsychiatry, 81 (1), 20-28.

Spanish Dream Society. (2016). Healthy sleep: evidence and action guides. Official document of the Spanish Dream Society. Journal of Neurology, 63 (2), 1-27.