Toyota Develops a Refreshing Nap Seat?


Shorter work hours make for tired brains

The TOTONE is intended to serve ever-busy executives and other businesspersons stressed by today’s information-overload society.

Improving work efficiency seems to reduce the amount of brain energy required, but in fact, it has brought unforeseen pitfalls.


Research has shown that shorter work hours may increase mental fatigue.

People might not allow their minds the slightest scraps of downtime to finish work within the allotted time, while virtual meetings mean we no longer even have those minutes of moving to the conference room. All of this deprives our brains of time to slack off.

I think the challenge for Japanese society is not just reforming the way we work, but also improving how we rest our brains. We want to boost the well-being of workers by making their days both physically and mentally fulfilling.

So how can dozing for just 15 to 30 minutes be so invigorating?

Napping clears the brain’s cache memory

People could wake up feeling refreshed by taking a short, high-quality nap, instead of continuously slogging away even when the brain slows down.


Although energy drinks or coffee make you feel like your brain has temporarily recovered, the effect doesn’t last long. You might be able to perform simple tasks, but probably lack the capacity for complex work that requires careful deliberation. Instead, it is better to take a nap of no more than 30 minutes which is not too deep, not too light, just to the point of losing consciousness.

At the same time, the quality of that nap tends to be affected by a whole range of factors, including posture, temperature, lighting, noise, and peace of mind. We figured that by satisfying these criteria, you should be able to take an ideal nap in as little as 15 minutes, even in the workplace.

Select a course of 15, 20, or 30 minutes.
Sleep starts with gentle rocking, creating the sensation of floating on a cloud. The soft tunnel-like enclosure sits 30-35cm from the eyes, designed to avoid feeling oppressive.

A future of sleeping in cars?

When Toyota Times tried out the TOTONE, it proved remarkably comfortable despite the small space. The project leaders provided an invigorating explanation of the technology, which they ultimately intend to incorporate into cars.


The interior of a car is more confined than a bedroom, making it easier for us to control the environment and design the entire space. While turning over may be difficult in a tight space, one of the reasons for doing so is heat and moisture regulation, which we can achieve in a car with seat ventilators.

In other words, a smaller space may actually offer better sleep. We could open up a world that is the exact opposite of how people generally think of beds and bedrooms. The fact that children tend to sleep well in cars may be because a nicely rocking car is an ideal environment for slumber.

Future technologies may bring a world where the car drives you to your destination overnight, and thanks to a comfortable sleep, you arrive energized and ready to go in the morning.

Drawing on technology honed through car-making, the development team has sought to discover a space that is even better suited to sleeping than the bedroom. The pair ended the interview by talking about the potential of Toyota as a company.

“Toyota has a culture that embraces ambition, as you can see by the way this product development was approved. We want to show through the TOTONE that the company is capable of real innovation.”

Besides the Woven Planet Nihonbashi offices, nine other companies are already trialing the TOTONE with very positive feedback. The team aims for public release next year by accelerating prototype development. With strong expectations to improve people’s well-being by reducing mental fatigue, the TOTONE is on the road to bringing a relaxing, exciting future.