The Japanese health ministry is issuing guidance for employers to help eradicate what it calls the “sleep is expendable” attitude, and point out to businesses the importance of sleep and the benefits of a well-rested workforce. Meanwhile, the Japanese Society of Sleep Research has warned that 71% of adult males in Japan routinely get less than seven hours of sleep each night. More worryingly, 30% of Japanese adults now rely on alcohol to fall asleep – a situation that could easily be the cause of yet more health problems in the future. 

For businesses used to a culture of extracting as much value from their staff as possible, there are some very good reasons to change their ways and encourage workers to take better care of themselves. A 2009 study by Rand attempted to quantify the cost of sleep deprivation. Ill health and higher mortality rates were all blamed for an estimated $138 billion a year productivity loss to the Japanese economy – worth 2.92% of GDP.