June 21, 2006


Nation of Workaholics Sleeps on the Job: Japanese Executives and Students Recharge at Lunch (Anthony Faiola, June 21, 2006, Washington Post)

For high school students everywhere, the classroom desk is often a place to catch a few winks of sleep. But instead of receiving a scolding, dozing teenagers at Meizen high school are more likely these days to find their teachers dimming the lights, putting on classical music and joining their students for a power nap.

In a nation known for its tireless diligence, the students have joined a repose revolution that has investment bankers and bureaucrats sharing lunchtime with the sandman. Meizen High, in this progressive southern metropolitan area of 5 million, last year became the first school in the nation to promote mental alertness by officially encouraging all students to take 15-minute naps in their classrooms after lunch. Several schools have followed suit, and others have said they might adopt the practice.

After-lunch naps have long been stigmatized as a sign of laziness in a society that experts call among the most sleep-deprived on earth. But, suddenly, they have become the latest rage, part of a mental alertness craze sweeping a nation known for its fondness for such fads. A flurry of scientific studies, books and high-profile news reports are heralding mini-siestas as an integral part of new daily regimens for enhancing mental agility. [...]

It has been to the benefit of the 991 students at Meizen high school, where summer break does not begin until July and where surveys showed most students slept only five to six hours a night. Since the napping program was introduced in June 2005, test scores have markedly increased and reports of students drifting off during class have sharply declined, said the principal, Shinei Otaka.

"You can't compare the lifestyles of these kids to kids back in the States," said Melissa Fabrose, the English teacher at Meizen who is on an exchange program this year from her San Francisco high school. "Most of these kids are waking up around 5:30 or 6 a.m., and lots of them are commuting on public transport. Some of them are traveling more than two hours each way and then spend lots of time studying. They don't have a lot of time to sleep."

Of course, studies also show that it's asinine to have teenagers,m in particular, start their days as early as we have them do so.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 21, 2006 12:09 PM

When I was consulting in Japan, the people I was working for worked from 8 am to 11 pm, and spent most of their time reading comic books and smoking.

Posted by: pj at June 21, 2006 10:49 PM
« PUTTING THE SOCK IN SOCCER: | Main | ALL DOWNHILL SINCE '70-'72 (via The Mother Judd and the Other Brother): »