Sleep Culture in Workplaces Around the World

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Ever been caught taking a nap at work due to tiredness? In some countries, sleep culture at work is often encouraged!

It’s a common stance from business owners and a large majority of senior figures that taking naps at work is to be discouraged.

But could a lack of sleep and proper rest be damaging productivity, and perhaps even worse, our emotions whilst in the workplace?

The Effects of Poor Sleep Culture

Research undertaken by the NCBI does in fact suggest this could be the case, detailing how sleep deprivation can become harmful to our emotional health.

Furthermore, a lack of sleep in the workforce is having a direct financial impact too, with findings from the BBC suggesting that loss of sleep and employee tiredness could be costing the UK nearly £40 billion a year.

With this problem now firmly in the limelight, Brother have conducted a study on how sleep culture differs around the round, with several examples of how new sleeping customs have been introduced into workplace.

Could it be time for the UK to follow suit?

USA – ‘Silicon Valley Sleepers’

The sleep culture within the USA has regularly been documented, with those working within the technology playground known as ‘Silicon Valley’ being known to take naps in the workplace.

Allowing time for workers to have short naps or longer sleeps during slow periods in the workplace is starting to be widely embraced.

Recently, technology giant Google has gone one step ahead of this by having purpose-built sleeping pods and shells installed into their offices for employee use.

Chinese Sleep Culture – ‘Bring Your Bedroom to Work’

Working culture within the country of China has meant that time spent away from offices and factories has gradually decreased due to strenuous and long working hours.

With this in mind, business owners and employers based in China now tend to advocate short naps and temporary rests after the lunchtime period as their sleep culture.

It’s believed that these can help to improve focus and concentration for when workers return to their duties.

Furthermore, some workplaces and businesses have now gone to the effort of installing temporary/permanent facilities for sleeping and even washing utilities for employees who tend to stay overnight when working.

Japanese Sleep Culture – ‘Inemuri’ (Sleeping whilst present)

A general perception made with workers that fall asleep or take a nap whilst at work is that they are often lazy in their attitude or just poorly prepared.

However in Japan, Inemuri (translated as sleeping whilst present) is considered to be positive, in that it can be seen as an employee being a hard worker and dedicated.

The belief in Inemuri being a positive outlook on sleep culture means that workers are given freedom to take naps and rests whilst travelling on public transport, whilst at their desks, and in some instances, during company meetings.

Spain – Siesta

Perhaps one of the more commonly known sleep cultures of the world, Siestas in Spain and parts of Latin America are used by workers to help cope with long working hours.

This sleep culture tradition has slowly dwindled in recent years however, as new business laws that were introduced in 2016 have started to limit just how late employees are able to work for.

Due to this, the length of time for napping during a Siesta has decreased, with workers now being left with as little as half an hour compared to previous stints of up to 2 or 3 hours.

Norway – Napping Outside

Rounding up this list of sleep cultures is perhaps the most unusual of them all – taking naps outside.

In Norway, it’s common place to walk through any of the main Nordic towns and see people laying down and taking naps in temperatures reaching as low as -5°C.

Whilst this could be considered as concerning, it’s believed that sleeping outdoors in these types of temperatures during the day time is good for health and wellbeing.

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Sam Rose

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