Science says you shouldn’t have to start work before 10 a.m.
If you think you shouldn’t have to get up so early for work, you now have science on your side.
According to the National Post, a new study suggests that making staff start work before 10 a.m. is “tantamount to torture” and is making employees sick, exhausted and stressed. It’s also costing business, because nobody is at their best when they’re any of those things.
Research by Paul Kelley, of Oxford University, suggests that the circadian rhythms of people under age 55 are out of sync with standard nine-to-five working hours. Kelley also says this poses a “serious threat” to performance and mental health.
Experiments studying circadian rhythms suggest that eight-to-ten year olds should start school no earlier than 8:30, say the researchers, while 16 year olds should start at 10 a.m. and university students should start at the nice late hour of 11 a.m.
Also, organizations that insist employees start work early are costing themselves and their staff.
“This is a huge society issue,” Dr. Kelley reportedly told the British Science Festival in Bradford. “Staff should start at 10 a.m. You don’t get back to (the 9 a.m.) starting point until 55.
“Staff are usually sleep deprived. We’ve got a sleep-deprived society. It is hugely damaging on the body’s systems because you are affecting physical emotional and performance systems in the body.
“Your liver and your heart have different patterns and you’re asking them to shift two or three hours. This is an international issue. Everybody is suffering and they don’t have to.”
He also said, “This applies in the bigger picture to prisons and hospitals,” he added. “They wake up people and give people food they don’t want. You’re more biddable because you’re totally out of it. Sleep deprivation is a torture.”
While the “torture” thing is hyperbolic and diminishes the suffering of people who are actually, you know, tortured, anyone who has ever lived with a baby or several knows that sleep deprivation can indeed be very, very hard to handle. And it’s well known that lack of adequate sleep is associated with a range of serious health consequences ranging from depression and anxiety to heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and cancer.
Kelley, a former head teacher, changed the start time from 8.30 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the school where he worked and apparently saw the number of top grades rise by 19%. Another four-year experiment is underway in which students at more than 100 schools are starting at 10 a.m. to see whether exam results improve. Those findings are expected in 2018.
Meanwhile, employers who don’t already should seriously consider allowing employees to work flexible hours. The research suggests they would see a boost in productivity and engagement.
Until that happens, here are some tips on how to be less tired all the time (so you can be better at your job).