lifestyle

Up to 40% of Japanese men can’t sleep because of work stress

46 Comments
By Andrew Kane, RocketNews24

A recent controversy surrounding the suicide of a young worker at Japanese advertising giant Dentsu has cast a spotlight on the often gruelling labor conditions under which many toil in the country. Though the government’s investigation into the company’s practices led Dentsu to institute a number of countermeasures to prevent overwork, including a strict “lights-out” policy after 10 p.m. in the evening, office life for many in Japan remains as stressful as ever.

It might come as little surprise then that many people here actually “can’t sleep” because of stress they experience at their jobs. How many, you might wonder? Between 30-40% of Japanese working-age (20-50 year-old) men, to be precise. That’s according to the results of a recent survey about the health and nutritional habits of Japanese people, published by the Japanese government’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare on November 14.

The survey drew from a sample of over 7,000 working-age Japanese people, and showed that in addition to this concerning figure, 40% of all men and women responding to the survey indicated that they sleep less than six hours a day. This figure represents a sharp increase from just a decade ago, when just 28% of respondents to a similar survey reported that this was the case.

Doctors typically recommend that people receive eight hours a day of sleep in order to stay healthy.

While the number one reason cited for lack of sleep by men in the survey was work, it seems that for women from a similar age bracket, the main things contributing to their poor sleep included getting absorbed with their phones, games, etc. (33% of women in their 20s), and raising children (32% of women in their 30s).

The survey also revealed that younger people generally, and younger women in particular, tend to have less balanced diets than people in their 60s, tending to opt for meals out and snacking rather than proper home-cooked food.

All in all, the results of this survey show that Japanese people, like many in contemporary societies around the world, have too much to do, too much work, and too little time to relax and enjoy their lives.

Sources: Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, Asahi Shinbun

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Nearly 40 percent of young, unmarried Japanese people say they don’t want a relationship -- Japanese ladies list top five companies whose employees they’d most/least like to date -- Survey by Japanese ministry reveals high rates of “maternity harassment” in workplace

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46 Comments
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I can't sleep without a beer cause of work stress.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Stress make for wonderful sleep for me.

-13 ( +4 / -17 )

All in all, the results of this survey show that Japanese people, like many in contemporary societies around the world, have too much to do, too much work, and too little time to relax and enjoy their lives.

Understatement of the year. Anyway, we didn't need this survey to tell us that. Anyone who has lived here for 6 months or longer could have told you that.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Its not so much the work I would imagine, its the cannibalistic nature of company life in Japan. The actual job often takes 2nd priority behind the constant pecking order tension, battles and harassment that they dish out to each other. It can be a grim game at times. Counting sheep helps apparently.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

The 'children' that often work in large companies in Japan are what make most of the stress that one deals with daily at work. The actual work is what I find gets me through the day and lets me sleep at night but it's the constant 'mind games' that these 'children' play at work that often leaves me stressed out because the hinder one's ability to get the work done. It almost feels as if they never quite grew out of the high school bullying and mind games and they seem to relish making others around them suffer for no gain to the actual output of work.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

I'm out the door at 17:10 almost every night, unless I have something really important to do.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Too bad for them but many people wear their 'overwork' as a badge of honor anyway. I don't lose any sleep over my job. When they give me stress, I lob it back. If I had to I would just quit and find something less stressful. Can't be that hard.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

I work for a Japanese company that is very good about encouraging people to go home early. At 17:40 every day, there is a recorded announcement telling people to go home early if they can for better work-life balance. Then, at 17:45 a chime rings signaling that the work day has ended. Many people stay later, but a good number are out of the office by 18:00, including me. I have to applaud them for this.

19 ( +20 / -1 )

There are just people who can't sleep without drinking alcohol. If one is really physically and mentally worn out working more than 8 hrs a day, I don't think they'll find it hard to sleep. But as I've been noticing it from the factories I've worked stretching some decades, some gets sleepy while working and at times snoozing but upon getting home just watch DVD's or TV shows from their home countries instead of sleeping and it kind of become a habit to the detriment of the production line and other co workers who faithfully work. Sometimes their lack of sleep make them flare up easily and just hard to work with. Aside from the fact that some make "side work" that ultimately make them sleep less. As for the Jmen who can't sleep because of work stress, I just observed that Jmen who are happy with their love and family lives are easy to work with and they don't look as if they're in badly need of sleep. Not sure though!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

They are all adults and the only ones who can make this problem better. Workers in Japan these days are still reliant on companies hiring them and then committing 40 years of their lives to that company. They need to get out and think about what they want.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Up to 40% of Japanese men can’t sleep because of work stress

What does that mean?

The survey drew from a sample of over 7,000 working-age Japanese people, and showed that in addition to this concerning figure, 40% of all men and women responding to the survey indicated that they sleep less than six hours a day.

So, they mean sleeping less than 6 hours a day equals not sleeping?

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

I am not surprised by this report however I think it would be very naive to admit to anyone in a Japanese company that you cannot sleep due to stress. I know our manager would never understand and he would see it as a sign of weakness. If you don't sleep well it is much better to say you have a headache or bad stomach.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Dylan] sounds like you are one of the lucky ones working for a company that has actually worked it out. Wish there were more of them.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@PerfomingMonkey and @DylanRobertson, are they hiring?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It's also the childish culture of refusing to admit when there is a problem that needs to be dealt with. Instead of admitting that something needs addressing, Japanese workplace culture is to pretend there is no problem at all (usually until someone walks in front of a train, and then act all surprised - this literally happens). If they do concede that there is a problem in the workplace, they somehow twist it into being the fault of the person who raised the problem and then that person becomes the new target for bullying and isolation. With such backwards attitudes, everyone is just constantly in 'gaman mode' and too scared to seek help when something is unnecessarily stressing them out. Meanwhile, things are slowly falling apart.

The childish and backwards workplace attitudes in this country are truly astounding. It's no wonder the birthrate is falling rapidly.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The problem is that even if they change jobs, they will not be able to escape this pseudo-military sado-masochistic paradigm that seems to exist for men at every level of this society. It's hardly rocket science to figure out why the birthrate is so low and the suicide rate so high.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Well, I sleep 6 hours a day generally, 2am - 8am. I wake up tired but basically fine for the day. I can imagine 5 hours or so a night is pushing it

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Why can you just quit? You don't need a pride. It's not the end of the world. Companies will continue. At least you can continue to live without stress. There will always be new opportunities where you can work on your own terms. Leave the company and move on.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

After the working day, most have long commutes spent staring at smart phones. Looking at screens late in the evening affects sleep, so it's probably not just work stress, it's probably night time routine mixed in with this.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@Why can you just quit? You don't need a pride.

IF you are between 20 or 30 it might be an option, especially if you are single. Once you get older and are married. have worked for a company for a couple of years it gets harder. Older people can't find a new job so easily. Jsut quitting means, NO money, which means they cant pay the rent or support the family. Once again, its not as easy as you think.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

that level of stress leads to depression, suicide, and if not those then lots of different sicknesses and cancers. If you don't treat your body right it won't either. I know they're stuck.

I really wish workers would go on strike. They deserve so much more out of life

0 ( +0 / -0 )

papigiulioNOV. 21, 2016 - 01:26PM JSTIF you are between 20 or 30 it might be an option, especially if you are single. Once you get older and are married. have worked for a company for a couple of years it gets harder. Older people can't find a new job so easily. Jsut quitting means, NO money, which means they cant pay the rent or support the family. Once again, its not as easy as you think.

Problem is the many of the the free loading fat wife don't want to work. Let her carry half the problem. let her get a part time job. You don't need to carry all the burden. You might have option to quit and pursue other options at less income with much less stress.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

All in all, the results of this survey show that Japanese people, like many in contemporary societies around the world, have too much to do, too much work, and too little time to relax and enjoy their lives.

let me add: ....all because of too little money.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@sfjp330

free loading fat wife don't want to work. Let her carry half the problem.

As papigiulio says :

Older people can't find a new job so easily.

I have worked all my life not only when I was younger (my parents would have helped me but I was too independent) I worked to pay for my studies. Later on, as a single mother with three-year-old. He is now doing overtime himself at the office...

I want to continue working ! but I can't seem to be able to find a new job... Will you hire me ???

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Work stress? Please the real reason is used to be a time when a man's salary money was life money and one could afford to provide for their family. Today the work is not the stress but what little we have left after TAXES by the government that we must pay and keeps rising is what is causing the stress, but much easier to place the blame on work stress.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Up to 40% of Japanese men can’t sleep because of work stress

The original headline of the Rocket news article.

Up to 40 percent of Japanese men can’t sleep because of work

http://en.rocketnews24.com/2016/11/19/up-to-40-percent-of-japanese-men-cant-sleep-because-of-work/

In the original survey, 37.5% of males answered they sleep less than 6 hours a day. Of the males who sleep less than 6 hours a day, 37.7% answered that long working hours is the cause of not having enough sleep, whereas 32.8% answered sleeping less than 6 hour a day is enough. (page 13, 14)

http://www.mhlw.go.jp/file/04-Houdouhappyou-10904750-Kenkoukyoku-Gantaisakukenkouzoushinka/kekkagaiyou.pdf

Stress?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

It could also be related to simply living in Japan stress...

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Too much work stress is partly due to poor coomunication. As a Japanese I think that we like to protect the wa and use too much tatemae instead of honne. Everyone is afraid of of "murahachibu" which means being ostracized and ignored by the rest of the group. I have seen this many times at my workplace. If you say the wrong thing you may become victim to this. The sufferer of "murahachibu" eventually quits their job due to the humiliation. We must learn to communicate more directly, efficiently and openly but it will take time.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@tiger_tanaka from what I have read and know the problems seem to be too much commonality. Instead of "Wa" Japanese should start thinking as it "WAS" and become more independent individuals instead of mindless group thinking.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

We must learn to communicate more directly, efficiently and openly but it will take time.

Since ancient times, the Japanese are communicating indirectly and not openly.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

If you have stress in your life, it's your responsibility to organise things so that you don't, or so that you have enough to make life interesting but not too much so that you're overwhelmed.

Change things around so that you don't get stress. If you can't change things in your workplace, quit. Start your own business! It isn't hard. It's your life, live it!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

If you can't change things in your workplace, quit.

If you can't change things in your workplace, change yourself. .

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Hard work doesn't kill people but we as humans turn to create stress for ourselves by thinking too deeply and through our actions. Working in Japanese companies isn't so bad but always people complain about how tough it is without taking any action. Things have changed over time in Tokyo as well. Working in Tokyo 20yesrs back would have been stressful but not now. Just people tend to always complain without looking at the pay structure in Japan and compare it to other countries. Of course there are lots of illegal overtime work but in return the bonus for certain usual company employees is paid out twice a year and enormous ( I've seen some of my friends who are just office workers taking close to 1million yen as bonuses in usual companies ) ... if these Japanese actually worried in certain American states or European countries with low salary and physically hard work then they would realize what is tough work and stress....

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@tiger_tanaka from what I have read and know the problems seem to be too much commonality. Instead of "Wa" Japanese should start thinking as it "WAS" and become more independent individuals instead of mindless group thinking.

You are right we need to think as individuals. As a Japanese I am guilty of this too. I always tend to say "we Japanese" when talking to foreigners but now I try to avoid this.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Stress can affect your sleep heavily. Not being able to sleep is just one of the effects of sleep. It's mentioned that these men get less than six hours of sleep, this means that they get less than the recommended hours of sleep. Not getting enough sleep can in turn have several side affects, ranging from not being able to concentrate to not being able to make proper decisions. If stress affects your sleep, you could try mindfulness. There are some sleep exercises that could help let you fall a sleep easier. I can recommend reading this sleep blog, it will definitely be a start to a better sleep: https://www.vitatalalay.com/10-sleep-exercises-for-better-sleep/

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Companies should give more importance to relax and enjoy for their workers.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You are right we need to think as individuals

One can dream. Group think is molded into the sinue of Japan. I really doubt it will ever change.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The survey drew from a sample of over 7,000 working-age Japanese people, and showed that in addition to this concerning figure, 40% of all men and women responding to the survey indicated that they sleep less than six hours a day.

How does this survey in anyway indicate they are losing sleep due to stress? Most likely, they are simply at work too late at night, and by the time they go home, eat, bathe, etc, there is not enough time to sleep. Let's not forget the long commute times for many people.

It seems that in the wake of the Dentsu suicide, the writer of this article is trying hard to make a connection between working long hours and some kind of psychological effect on people, but because the writer can't do that directly he/she makes a ridiculous connection to insomnia.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

It seems that in the wake of the Dentsu suicide, the writer of this article is trying hard to make a connection between working long hours and some kind of psychological effect on people...

And why wouldn't they? The timing is right (well overdue and without enough public support if you ask me). There is either something wrong with you or your situation is very different to the average worker if you don't see the correlation. Nonetheless, if it helps, here's a study:

http://oem.bmj.com/content/58/1/68.full

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Along with lower birth rate, workplace stress is an issue in all developed countries--especially the US. Those who think otherwise while resorting to juvenile attacks on Japanese culture such as labeling it childish, really reveal more about themselves and their own ignorance than guest country theyre living in.

As long as Capitalism remains dominant and driven by profits at any cost, global corporations will continue to exploit their workforce to maximize productivity to increase shareholder value. Upper management as always will reap the majority of the benefits while creating a cut-throat, darwinian environment at the workplace.

The dilemma with Japan, is that lacking natural resources, relies primarily on human resources which does not afford the luxury of more workplace freedom and entrepreneurial activity.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

BertieWooster If you have stress in your life, it's your responsibility to organise things so that you don't, or so that you have enough to make life interesting but not too much so that you're overwhelmed. Change things around so that you don't get stress. If you can't change things in your workplace, quit. Start your own business! It isn't hard. It's your life, live it!

You make it sound as if starting a business magically solves all problems. Starting your own business might lead to even greater stress due to greater responsibility. You say it isn't hard, is it ?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

FightingVikingNOV. 21, 2016 - 07:05PM JST @sfjp330I have worked all my life not only when I was younger (my parents would have helped me but I want independent) I worked to pay for my studies. Later on, as a single mother with three-year-old. He is now doing overtime himself at the office...I want to continue working ! but I can't seem to be able to find a new job... Will you hire me ???

When women have their first child in Japan, 70% of them stop working for a decade or more, compared with just 30% in U.S. Quite a lot of those 70% are gone for good. This has to change.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Older people can't find a new job so easily.

Lots of ageism exists in Japan. People from other countries are surprised to find this out. The people usually pushing for this ageism (against others) are ... Japanese men over 60!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If I ever have problems sleeping a q quick fix is DRINK yourself to sleep ! You may feel a little worse for wear the next day but beats counting sheep with a stick

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@safinator

Yep. Definitely the best way. Although it can be frowned on during meetings....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

it's not a surprise for me, japanese are hardworking people

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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