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Is It Ever Acceptable to Fall Asleep at Work?

Falling asleep at work can be seen as unprofessional, yet it's a complex issue. Factors like job nature, health conditions, and company culture play roles. Some progressive workplaces even encourage power naps for productivity. But what are the boundaries, and how can you navigate them without risking your reputation? Consider the nuances of workplace etiquette and rest. What's your take on napping on the job?

The Japanese have come up with the world's greatest employment perk: sleep. While it's probably not technically in anyone's contract, it is widely understood that falling asleep at your job is a sign of a hard worker. You've put in the hours, so close your eyes for a bit, even at your desk.

In fact, zonking out for a little while pretty much anywhere -- in a store, in the park, even on a city sidewalk -- is generally acceptable. One of the most common sights during the workweek is people sleeping on commuter trains. The practice is known as inemuri. And while all that napping sounds pretty nice, you have to consider why it's occurring: Japan is a pretty sleep-deprived country. According to a 2015 study, 39.5 percent of the adult population sleeps less than six hours a night.

Some Japanese do's and don'ts:

  • Walking and eating or drinking is frowned upon in Japan; it's best to stay stationary, even if it means standing by a vending machine.

  • Most indoor places expect you to remove your shoes before entering; if you're unsure, look for other people's shoes at the entrance.

  • During group meals, it's polite to refill other people's drinks and wait for someone to refill yours.

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    • In Japan, falling asleep in public or in the office is usually acceptable, and is seen as the sign of a hard worker.
      In Japan, falling asleep in public or in the office is usually acceptable, and is seen as the sign of a hard worker.