High School Encourages Power Napping to Increase Productivity
> 6/21/2006 2:21:28 PM

In a trend which may eventually migrate to the United States, a school district in southern Japan adopted a policy encouraging students to take brief naps, usually following their lunch period. A recent Washington Post article highlights the fact that Japanese society is extremely competitive and demanding, even when compared to the work-heavy United States. Students and professionals live under constant pressure to perform at exceptional levels in business and academics.

Lack of sleep is a natural side effect of such stress-inducing lifestyles, and studies estimate that Japan loses as much as 30 billion dollars a year because of sleep deprivation and its related complications. Measures of this phenomenon's influence include commonly humorous instances of businessmen falling asleep in public as well as a popular invention for test takers and workers which ensures that its owner does not fall asleep with an alarm triggered by the body's withdrawal into the drowsy state.

Most of the students at Meizen high school in Fukuoka have responded well to the napping element, stating that it helps them maintain focus and ultimately perform better academically.

"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."

While obvious cultural disparities exist, Japan and the United States share epidemics: overworked citizens and the related sleeping disorders. If we want our students to perform on levels equal to their Japanese peers, we may eventually consider following their model and allowing the nap time phenomenon to extend beyond kindergarten.

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