Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Himawari Life Insurance is among the growing number of Japanese companies that are stressing the importance of sleep to their employees’ health, as the nation struggles with health issues stemming from overwork and lack of sleep.
The insurer has provided its employees with a portable device that can gauge the length and depth of their sleep, Japan Today reported. Lack of sleep has also been blamed on the widespread use of mobile phones and other devices.
“Insomnia has worsened through the spread of mobile phones,” said Nao Tomono, a sleep consultant for the company. “There is a growing importance to re-examine sleep since low work efficiency and mental and physical disorders lead to big economic losses.”
“Sleep debt”, which refers to the harmful effects of cumulative lack of sleep, was one of the most talked-about phrases in Japan last year. Sleep deprivation and overwork has become so common that there is a Japanese word for it: karoshi.
Other companies have taken action to help their employees get enough sleep. Property developer Mitsubishi Estate Co partnered with Neurospace, a firm that supplies sleeping programs geared at companies. An experiment was conducted, and it found that taking naps improved job focus and helped sustain overall motivation. Aside from a one-hour break, employees are now also entitled to a 30-minute nap in the company’s three nap rooms.
According to a human resources official at Mitsubishi Estate, workers initially avoided using the napping rooms, but are now open to the idea after learning the positive effects of taking a quick snooze.
Meanwhile, Tokyo-based Nextbeat Co. set up two ‘strategic sleeping rooms,’ one for females and one for males, in its office. The rooms contain noise suppressors and aromatherapy devices to help employees relax. Employees are also prohibited from using smartphones and personal computers inside the rooms.
“My work efficiency has improved since I started refreshing myself in the napping room,” engineer Hideki Utsonomiya said.