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Sunday, July 3, 2016

Japanese Inemuri - Perchance To Dream of Sleep

According to a BBC.com article I spotted back on May 6, 2016 written by Brigitte Steger, the Japanese do not sleep… they do not nap… but they do inemuri.

Okay… I’m pretty sure I’ve cradled the pretty little head of Noboko (my girlfriend back in the day and sometimes the night), and listened to her gentle in and out breathes as she slept. It was sexy. And empowering in a fairly normal way, as it simply showed she was comfortable with me.

Now… perhaps it is because Noboko was with me, that she was no longer on the same level as the average Japanese… as she began to shift to my gaijin (outsider/foreigner) schedule of not really working that hard.

Yeah… the Japanese were and are still known for their ability to absorb punishment… and by that I men an ability to work a stupid number of hours at their place of business… without the possibility of receiving overtime pay, or extra time off… it’s like being a first-year lawyer at a prestigious law-firm… no time for sleep… just time enough to work billable hours… except the Japanese (not including Japanese lawyers) do not receive billable hours to make it all worthwhile.

They work long hours because working shows a sense of pride in their organization. Impressing the bosses (without kissing up, like we do in the West - oooh, great idea, boss) is secondary to impressing the organization with one’s enthusiasm and intestinal fortitude (guts).

Anyhow… the Japanese are very tired. I’m sure you’ve seen photos or real life presentations of them falling asleep on the train… sometimes sitting, sometimes standing up…  but sleeping nonetheless.

I’ve barely mentioned this more than a few times in the past 3,200 blogs I’ve written, but Japanese people fall asleep all the time at work or school or various events…

It’s not considered an insult, either, rather that the individual MUST have spent a long night doing work… and THAT is bull crap.

I can tell you that on more than one occasion, I have fallen asleep at my desk in the teacher’s lounge.

Why? Lack of sleep. Why? Too much sex or too much drinking or, dare I say it, simply not going to sleep early enough. Speaking as someone who used to suffer from sleep apnea (I have a C-Pap machine - feel free to ask me questions if you think you stop breathing when you sleep), it is easy to fall asleep when you least expect it… (in my case) it has absolutely NOTHING to do with excessive amounts of work.

So… Japan… why is acceptable to take a nap during work and work meetings (or on the train - but it’s NOT cool to sleep in and be late for work?

Being late or sleeping in is a sign of laziness.

Struggling in… doing piss poor work because you are over-tired, having to take a nap, and then working late… to begin the cycle anew the next day… that is what Japan considers a good day’s work?

You’ll notice that i have not once mentioned "karōshi (過労死)"—Japan’s own term for death by over work? Oops. The fact that the country needed such a term speaks volumes.   

These karōshi deaths are caused by a heart attack or stroke, which can be brought on by constant high levels of stress and a crappy starvation diet. Have another energy drink.

Maybe if the Japanese worker was allowed to get the proper amount of rest at the proper time, the body clock wouldn’t be so screwed up.

Sleep is driven by two systems: sleep/wake homeostasis and the circadian biological clock.

Sleep/wake homeostasis tells your body when it is time to sleep after a long period of being awake. It helps us get enough sleep to help the body and mind recover from the stress of being awake.

On its own, we would, therefore, be at our most alert when we first awoke, and get sleepier and sleepier as the day goes on.

That doesn’t happen, because sleep/wake homeostasis creates a balance.

Now… the circadian biological clock helps to regulate the timing of periods of sleepiness and wakefulness during the day… our strongest drive to sleep is between 1PM-3PM and between 2AM-4AM.

Yes, there are morning or afternoon people… and so those times can vary.

The thing is… the sleepiness we feel during those two times is affected by the amount of sufficient sleep we have. Conversely, the circadian rhythm also allows us to feel more alert at certain times of the day… so it’s not always caffeine!

Ever had a second wind? You’re tired and then you aren’t and can go on for several more hours? That’s you surviving a low of your circadian rhythm.

For example, I get a bit tired around 10 or 11PM… survive that, and I can stay up until 3AM… which I do on the weekends… writer’s gotta write, right? Okay, I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time now… 

Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. Since I am none of the three, perhaps I should start getting more sleep.

But is it too late for me? No pun intended. No, really.

While most of the world suggest placing a baby in their own separate room to become an independent sleeper and have a proper sleep schedule (and mom and dad can work on creating brothers and sisters or just do some practicing), the Japanese 9and others, to be fair) are the opposite.

The Japanese are told they should have the baby/toddler in the same bedroom as the parents until the child reaches school age so that the kid can develop into independent and socially stable adults.

Laugh if you want… I know it’s true. Besides… who can say which version is more correct?

Sleeping with the parents - does that make it easier to sleep in front of others in Japan?

The thing is… inemuri is not considered to be sleep by the Japanese…. It’s not considered a night-time sleep, nor is it the same as an afternoon nap or power nap.

It’s inemuri, gaijin-san

“I” - means “to be present”; “Nemuri” means “sleep”.

It’s all part of that group thing that the Japanese make their entire culture around.

Sleeping during a meeting: you are present in body and soul, just not mind. As such, you are still involved within a social Japanese situation.

… just don’t disturb the social situation with excessive snoring.

By napping, you are present for the social interaction and can join the social interaction when you awake.

Being late, sleeping in… you aren’t part of the Japanese collective…

It’s why the Japanese will still show up at work when they are as sick as dog… mouth covered with a surgical mask so as to not pass along the germs. Coming to work sick shows the willingness to make a sacrifice… just as it does to show up to work on time regardless of how tired you are.

Oh yeah… want to show that you are a hard worker in Japan… inemuri is the way to show it.

West:
“Effing Joseph is asleep at his desk again… we should fire his butt.”

Japan:
“An-do-ryu-sensei is inemuri. We should buy him a thank-you present for his hard work.”

Neither happened, but you can see the difference in attitude.

You don’t have to be a braggart in Japan when it comes to your work effort… inemuri shows everyone that you are a hard worker… though I think that only works for the Japanese.

Oh what can it mean to a daydream believer, and a
Andrew Joseph

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