The land of the rising sun is famous for its sushis, his cherry blossoms, his technological gadgets and his Inemuri (sleeping while being present). Be asleep, wherever you are, and as soon as possible is a must in Japan where the Inemuri has been practiced there for at least 1,000 years.

The Inemuri is not restricted to the workplace; People practice it in public transports as well as in schools, restaurants, and even at work. This micro nap that could get you fired in your job in most countries is seen as a subtle sign of diligence in Japan, and your boss might even encourage it. In a country where a man’s value depends on his professional status, the quest for excellence begins in kindergarten and never ends, and it is not uncommon to have to work 200 hours a month to keep his job. It’s in Japan that the first cases of burn-outs, or “karoshi” in Japanese (“dying by work”) appeared. Tokyoites are the people in the world who sleep the less with 36 minutes less sleep than the New Yorkers and 54 minutes less than the Europeans. For a Japanese a night lasts only 6 hours on average. Practicing the Inemuri or even feigning it  by closing one’s eyes is a sign that a person has been working hard but still has the strength and moral virtue necessary to keep himself and his feelings under control.





Although it is accepted, the “Inemuri” is socially regulated. It must be practiced in public, and the person has to be able to go back to work as soon as necessary. The young people at work can’t practice the it. They have to prove first, they can work a lot. More the employee is old, more responsibilities he has, and more the right to practice Inemuri is accepted. Both sexes can practice it, but women are more criticized, especially if they sleep in a position that is considered unbecoming.

Work’s codes are intimately linked to our societal mentalities and the way they define success. In most of the countries, it’s the physical as well as the mental energy which demonstrates success. Falling asleep at work is synonymous of laziness, inefficiency, and non-professionalism. The slightest signs of tiredness are hidden with an anti dark circle, Vitamin cocktails, and coffee. No fault is allowed, at least not in public: and an employee is considered good when he looks invincible. In Japan, at the opposite,  it is respectable to expose his tiredness, and to fall in sleep on his computer. It’s the proof you work very hard. This mantra is found even in the common language: two colleagues, to say goodbye, will use the expression “Otsukaresama despite,” which means “You look tired, Sir.” This unusual form of politeness is a way of saying good evening to someone and mark his respect.


FOMO and Inemuri

Inemuri can be compared to the 21st-century phenomenon of FOMO, or ‘fear of missing out.’ If you miss a party to see your family or go to another party, you will experience FOMO, the fact to not be everywhere at once. Today there is so many things to do, and so many opportunities to follow that’s impossible to live one’s life without missing out on something. This is where Inemuri comes in: to be present while sleeping. The present time here looks thus more real.









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