Hyogo school introduces trial afternoon nap time for students

By Oona McGee, RocketNews24

Requested by the students themselves, the afternoon siesta is designed to improve concentration levels and protect the environment.

Kakogawa Junior High School in Kakogawa City, Hyogo Prefecture, is currently trialling a 10-minute afternoon nap time for students in order to increase attention spans and conserve electricity. Dubbed the “Kakogawa Siesta”, the idea was first raised by members of the student council in a meeting with the Mayor and members of the local council at City Hall in August last year during a special session called “Kakogawa Junior High School Parliament”.

During the meeting, the 12-member student body mentioned that a previous afternoon nap trial at a Japanese high school showed positive outcomes for student learning, and requested that the system be implemented at a junior high school level. They also expressed their desire to conserve energy as another reason to go ahead with the project.

On advice of the local Superintendent of Education, it was decided that the afternoon nap time should be tested first, on a trial basis. In response, student council members put forth a commencement date of June 14, which has now been implemented, with the “Kakogawa Siesta” currently being held after lunch for 10 minutes, between 1:05 p.m. and 1:15 p.m. each school day. During the designated nap period, the lights are turned off, curtains drawn, and students in all classrooms lay their heads on their desks for a brief period of shut-eye. Teachers are also encouraged to join in too.

While the break time is designed for sleeping, it’s essentially up to the students if they want to take a nap, with no student being forced to participate. When reporters visited the school for the first session, however, the large majority of students were keen to put their heads down to relax in the darkened classrooms.

Following the trial, which is due to conclude on Monday, students will be surveyed to find out whether the 10-minute nap time had any positive effects on their minds and behavior. While it’s uncertain whether the siesta will be implemented on a permanent basis, students at the school report feeling refreshed and clear-minded after the breaks. Staff at the school are also very keen to support the program, as it was an idea that originated from the students themselves and they would like to encourage their students as much as possible.

Source: ITmedia

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Dubbed the “Kakogawa Siesta”,

10 minutes does not constitute a "siesta". Many of these kids already sleep regularly during their boring lecture orientated "lessons".

If they want the kids to have energy, how about making the classes less boring and get better teachers! Better yet schedule gym class for two hours every afternoon and then let them go home!

9 ( +13 / -4 )

Make sure the kids don't pull out their smart phones during siesta.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

This have been going on for decades. Student falling asleep during class due to the daily out put. I can,t get a table in ski resorts at lunch because nearly every table have student sleep on them.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

That the kids require one is indicative of a system that lacks balance and just drives kids madly from dawn to dusk and far beyond - including of the club system and the Jukus.

What I witnessed was 1940's and 50's style classrooms where the kids are passive in their learning, and many completely switched off. Some, asleep.

An Inquiry based curriculum based around concepts runs rings around the Japanese Educational system. It produces kids who are creative, critical thinkers who are better at thinking laterally and problem solving, often collaboratively. The International Baccalaureate is a good example and it's no accident that Japan is undertaking a push to implement this in more schools across Japan.

Good teachers do well in this environment, and the kids respond accordingly.

13 ( +14 / -1 )


0 ( +3 / -3 )

This forum is constantly complaining about Japanese people being too passive and not taking control of the forces that shape their lives. Then we get a story of students recognizing a problem that they suffer from, looking at past experience to find a solution, going to their authorities and requesting new policies to try out that solution, and actually making a change in their world.

And everyone is suddenly critical?

You'll never find a bigger critic of the juku lifestyle than me, but this is awesome. You want to raise a generation of people with leadership skills, this is how you get the ball rolling. Maybe this plan is a bad idea. Maybe it won't actually make anything better. So what? It's 10 minutes out of everyone's day, and if it really doesn't work then that's one more argument against jukus. And if it does work, we still have all the other arguments against jukus, but we also have kids growing up at one school who might just have the leadership skills in a few years to be able to implement a real change. Kudos to these kids!

17 ( +20 / -3 )

New Schedule 6-8 No sports practice or clubs Assign teachers to classroom for the whole day. (No running to the faculty room to sleep during the the free hour. 8-10 courses. 10-10:15 nutrition break. Teachers are responsible to supervise the assigned classroom 10:15 -12:15 courses. 12:15- 12:45 lunch 12:50- 3:00 courses 3:15 - 5:30 practice or clubs 5:30 -7:00 Parental supervision and family. NO CRAMMING SCHOOLS & COURSES IF THE TEACHERS AND CURRICULUM IS PRESENTED CORRECTLY IN CLASS. Keep growing, keep learning, keep changing. Change!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The main reasons for being tired for these kids:

not enough sleep going to school too early for club doing sports before school not eating breakfast These kids don't need a nap, they just need healthy food and a realistic schedule.
9 ( +9 / -1 )

katsu78: "Then we get a story of students recognizing a problem that they suffer from, looking at past experience to find a solution, going to their authorities and requesting new policies to try out that solution, and actually making a change in their world. And everyone is suddenly critical?"

Yes, for two reasons: 1) 10 minutes does nothing. Anyone who knows about power naps knows it's a minimum 20 minutes, with a couple of minutes after to "wake up". 10 minutes might be better than nothing, but given history it will more than likely lead to two; 2) students will, as a result, be expected to put in more time rather than just improve efficiency with time already allotted to school, juku, club, and the other things expected of them. How about just eliminating juku and having them at home earlier? If not, fine, I do like the siesta idea, but make it 30 minutes to an hour -- especially in this heat.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Only 10 minutes? How is that a siesta? Kids would be better served by shorter school days, rather than a pathetically short nap break in the middle of a long day. I've never understood why high schools start so early, when scientists say that it's adolescents who need the most sleep for developing. They should ban morning practices, and not start high schools until 9am imo.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

smithinjapanJUN. 19, 2016 - 10:53AM JST How about just eliminating juku and having them at home earlier?

Like I said, I'm an opponent of jukus so I have no problem with getting rid of them, but casting shade on high school students for wanting a nap instead of getting rid of jukus misplaces responsibility for the phenomenon. The primary cause of jukus isn't really students not learning enough in their regular schooling (or the regular teaching methods not being good enough, though those are problems for different reasons), it's that university and to a lesser extent private high school entrance exams are ridiculously more difficult than they need to be. Students don't just study subjects that they failed to learn at school - often times they study subjects that flat out aren't taught at school (or at least don't cover content they need to learn to pass the exams. These exams aren't difficult because the universities need students with that level of knowledge to take on the difficult coursework of university, they're difficult because universities are in part rated by how many students apply to the school versus how many actually get in. Unnecessarily difficult entrance exams enhance schools' prestige. And since so many good jobs in Japan aren't meritocracies, but go to people with the right university connections, students can't just reject the system if they want to have any kind of prosperity in their lives.

It's a monstrously complex system that's desperately in need of reform, but students can't be expected to be the ones to reform it. Instead, we're seeing students taking action to enact policies to try make the system that's imposed upon them slightly less terrible. Maybe, just maybe, one or two of those students will use this experience with leadership and grow up to be a person who makes real improvements to Japan's educational systems. We could root for that. Or we can sit in the peanut gallery and blow raspberries at everyone who doesn't do everything exactly the way we think they should do it right now.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

this is how you get the ball rolling and this is where the problem rises, Japan takes forever to get the ball rolling, there's too much procrastination and indecision in many parts of life. And when things eventually change much of the time its too little too late to have any lasting benefits. You can clearly see it in the economy for the last 20+yrs

4 ( +5 / -1 )

10 minutes does nothing. Anyone who knows about power naps knows it's a minimum 20 minutes

Oh dear. And these kids have the audacity to question that and find out for themselves.

Nice post, katsu.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Breaks are important, but I wonder if having the break immediately after lunch is the best time. Later in the afternoon might be more effective.

I was amused by an ad for a summer juku yesterday. 4 weeks residential course, study from 8:20 am to 12:30 am every day. It gets the kids out of the house I suppose.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Lessons at my school are 1 hour 50 minutes long, with a 10 minute break in the middle. Some students sleep, others go to the bathroom or get a drink. Those who leave the class room perform much better after break time, the sleepers just tend to be in daze.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

First nap time for elementary school kids, please?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Katsu78: you're preaching to the choir on jukus, though there are other reasons why kids have to enroll in them other than what you mentioned, and yes, one reason is a lack of education at the public level (I know for a fact many teachers tell their students there is no time to cover the required material, "Ask your juju teacher"), as well as because many jukus are in league with universities and high schools, as recently demonstrated with Osaka Toin.

In any case, none of that means people can't state their opinion that a ten minute "siesta" is next to useless.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

ban jukus, reduce hours in school to 30 hours a week, learn things from qualified teachers. The stress is incredible and a 10 minute nap will just amplify the problems not solve them. They'll wake up into the nightmare.

Might as well drop the hours to 30, it's not like students have time to remember all the junk they're forced to remember. Certainly not learn it.

If a 40 hour work week is considered a max, I don't see why education gets a free ride on exploitation

2 ( +2 / -0 )

How will a 10 minute nap save any meaningful amount of electricity?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

10 minutes - is that all? What's the point?

This might have been a worthwhile experiment, but the rest period should be 30 minutes to make it worthwhile.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Guys, it is just a first step in improving learning, stop being soooo critical and appreciate that these suggestions comes from the students themselves.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

10 minutes? Hardly seems worth it. One would have to be totally exhausted to fall asleep that quickly, especially with one's head on a hard woooden desk.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Training for company life. Sounds ligit. Heads down kids, heads down.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

shhhhh. You will wake them up. Sleeeeep little students... sleeeeep.

Ten minutes can do a lot of good. Who says you need to sleep? That much quiet meditation about the day will do wonders.

I think that this is an important life skill. If nothing else, they should do it in health class as part of the curriculum.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

School days will never be made shorter because the Japanese education system was built on the premise that more = better. More lessons, more homework, more club commitments & of course - more juku classes. This unfortunately conditions kids to be total fine with the hell that faces them when they enter the corporate world. The whole system is a dysfunctional mess.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

If you like the kids suggestions and the fact it has been implemented, send the kids to Finland for a year of exchange and then really watch the suggestions fly

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Give it a try!

I must say I am very envious of the Japanese ability to easily fall asleep anywhere sitting down. In trains, planes, buses, cars, you name it. Its almost as if it is genetic.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It's a typical Japanese 'band-aid on a gaping wound' solution, but good on them for trying something.

They certainly aren't going to get rid of cram schools, or constant club activities, or needless time-consuming meetings, or 90 minute + school commutes, or pointless never-ending tests, are they?

The only option these over-worked, terminally sleep-deprived, mentally and physically burnt-out students have is to seek a little more rest time at school, and that's what they did. Good luck to them.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Everything has been said already by the majority!

10 minutes sleeping time is not going to help that much.

But they will never change this out-dated education system. Always done it like this so we will continue with it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

10 minutes nap time, thats not enough, why don't they extend the lunch break to 1 and a 1/4 hours long, this will give them time to eat, digest there food and relax/chill this would be better.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

i dont know how school and stuff works over in japan but in the states having to get up at 6 in the morning and be at school till around 3pm only to get home and have multiple projects and home work assignments due and finaly getting to bed around 11 or even midnight every single night is very tiring!!!!! we need something fixed about this.Not just this but the whole educational system and it teaching us useless crap like calculus.Instead we need school to start later and for them to teach us things we'll need to learn for life like learnning how to file taxes or write a check for example.School everywhere needs fixing i guess.Too bad im stuck in it for alittle while longer though.Hopefully we can fix it for our children or our childrens children and make school not only fun and exciting but useful too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

those of you who say 10 minute-nap means nothing...a piece of information below.

maybe these students actually did their study to find out about the positive affect of power nap :) they are also following up with doing a survey to ask the students if they think the power nap is actually useful.

I don't know why some people on this forum see this as negative, I see nothing but positive.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This has actually always been a good idea. At some really awesome companies in the US (and maybe other parts of the world) there is a "nap room" available for employees to use on their breaks/lunch times etc. 15-20mins of rest (or more on lunch break) creates a more aware and re-energized employee from mental and/or physical exhaustion.

Hopefully this will take off beyond their school, but they have to implement it effectively and safely.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A Flinders University study of individuals restricted to only five hours of sleep per night found a 10-minute nap was overall the most recuperative nap duration of various nap lengths they examined (lengths of 0 min, 5 min, 10 min, 20 min, and 30 minutes): the 5-minute nap produced few benefits in comparison with the no-nap control; the 10-minute nap produced immediate improvements in all outcome measures (including sleep latency, subjective sleepiness, fatigue, vigor, and cognitive performance), with some of these benefits maintained for as long as 155 minutes; the 20-minute nap was associated with improvements emerging 35 minutes after napping and lasting up to 125 minutes after napping; and the 30-minute nap produced a period of impaired alertness and performance immediately after napping, indicative of sleep inertia, followed by improvements lasting up to 155 minutes after the nap.[6]

Naps lasting more than 30 minutes appear to be associated with a period of impaired alertness (sleep inertia) immediately after awakening that takes some time to dissipate before wakefulness and performance improve.[6]

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Again all the Japan bashers come out the woodwork to offer their backseat analysis on the failings of Japanese, their school system and society.

It's as if youre all now experts on improving the educational system in a foreign culture when the system in your home country leaves a lot to be desired.

A nap let alone a 10min nap is not intended for one to 'fall asleep' but rather have a respite and much needed break due to mental fatigue.

Try it sometime, it does wonders to improve focus and clarity - even just 10mins of quiet.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

at least give them comfy beanbag chairs

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It is called a power nap. Probably a good idea.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The primary cause of jukus isn't really students not learning enough in their regular schooling (or the regular teaching methods not being good enough, though those are problems for different reasons), it's that university and to a lesser extent private high school entrance exams are ridiculously more difficult than they need to be.

In point of fact, only a small fraction of high schools and colleges have difficult entrance examinations. The 18 year old population peaked in 1992. The current 18 year old population is only about 60% of what it was in 1992. But, the number of colleges and colleges places on offer has increased substantially. The result is that unless you aim for the Japanese equivalent of the Ivy League, you can coast into college with very little study.

The picture of Japanese education that prevails among gaijin is thirty years out of date and where it has some validity applies only to a small fraction of young people.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

These type of decisions should be made by the students. -Good for them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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