Businesses embrace siestas to improve efficiency

JIJI

A number of businesses across the nation are beginning to embrace the belief that napping in the afternoon can help boost efficiency at work.

In a March announcement, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry recommended that workers take a nap of up to half an hour each workday, echoing moves by some firms, and even cafes, to help combat daytime drowsiness.

Information technology consultancy Hugo Co. has made 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. its companywide siesta time. In this period, rows of employees can be seen sleeping in their seats, wearing eye masks to keep out the light.

The Osaka-based company adopted the afternoon nap in 2007 at the initiative of its president, Daisuke Nakata, who found during overseas business trips that many firms in Europe and North America support napping.

“If you continue working while fighting back drowsiness, your work performance drops. After taking a nap, you are able to work better,” Nakata said.

Since Hugo’s siesta system was adopted, the efficiency of hi employees has increased notably, company officials said.

Meanwhile, Ohirune Cafe Corne, a cafe-cum-bedroom in central Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward, has become a convenient getaway for working women. The cafe hires out beds in its women-only sleeping chamber for ¥160 per 10 minutes. Light meals and drinks are also available.

“Many of our customers come here for a nap during their lunch break,” said Sakiko Tsukashima, the manager of the shop.

This month, the cafe began offering advice to hospitals, libraries and businesses that plan to create napping environments.

Sleep therapist Miho Mihashi, an adviser to the cafe, said it is ideal to catch a little sleep, for 15 to 30 minutes, before 2 p.m., when people tend to get sleepy.

“Even if you failed to get enough sleep yesterday, taking a snooze today improves your performance. We hope to see people lead vibrant lives by taking naps,” she said.