A new survey reveals that a startling number of Japanese workers are literally losing sleep over their stressful jobs.

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 10:00 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 percent 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 percent 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 percent 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 percent of women in their 20s), and raising children (32 percent 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, Labour and Welfare, Asahi Shinbun
Images: Illustrated by author for RocketNews24