Sleep deprivation is wreaking havoc on our society. We are just not getting enough of this valuable commodity. According to sleep experts at The Wright State University, this lack of sleep is contributing to fatigue, which accounts for about 10% of fatal car accidents. It also means that waking up early and getting to work before 9 am is a form of institutionalized torture. It increases the risk of us getting major illnesses such as heart disease, obesity, and cancer. Here are a few major findings from the sleep scientists which suggest that starting work at 10 am might be much more civilized and healthier for us.
Starting school and work later is natural
Paul Kelley is a neuroscientist and his research has convinced him, and many others, that a later start time in the day could be enormously beneficial for both students and adult workers. He knows that millennials (the current 18-34 age group) are not getting enough sleep and they make up one third of the workforce at the moment, according to PEW research. Both teens and adults need their beauty sleep. Test scores and work productivity would improve, Kelley claims.
“This is a huge society issue – staff should start at 10 a.m. You don’t get back to [a natural 9 a.m schedule] 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.” — Paul Kelley, neuroscientist
Sleepy workers do not perform well
There is loads of research which suggests that some of our mental functions, such as concentration, logical reasoning, mathematical ability, and memory, are all dependent on a good night’s sleep. The part of the brain which helps us do all these things is called the prefrontal cortex (PFC). When we do not get enough sleep, the PFC goes into crash mode and hardly functions at all. If you ever wondered why colleagues in your office are pretty slow in the mornings, you now know why!
Sleep deprivation not only makes for a very slow start in the mornings, but can also have other serious consequences, such as poor performance, depression, diabetes, and weight gain.
“Young children need ten hours of sleep per night, preadolescents about nine hours, and adolescents, research shows, also need about nine hours of sleep per night. And for adults, the recommendation is somewhere between seven and nine, depending upon the individual.” — James E. Gangwisch, Columbia University sleep expert.
How to solve the problem
Nobody knows how to solve this difficult problem. Civil servants in a western Turkey province are allowed to start work at 9:30 am instead of 8:30 am — provided they spend the time exercising. This is an effort to beat obesity, but can anyone tell me who is going to monitor these people? I bet most will have a good old lie-in and turn up in sneakers, saying they have just run 5 miles and they are exhausted!
A much more practical solution would be to persuade your boss that you function better with a later start and you are prepared to work an hour more. But beware!
Flextime sounds fine and dandy, but there is still some stigma attached to a later start. Yes, some managers still associate how well you work with your work start time. If you start work later, you might be thought of as less conscientious. This will carry through to your performance assessment — so don’t say I haven’t warned you. This is the alarming conclusion of the research carried out by the University of Washington and published in the Harvard Business Review.
Unless you work at Google, Microsoft, or some other forward-thinking companies, it seems sensible to heed Benjamin Franklin’s motto,
“Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”
A much easier solution is to try reducing all that blue light coming from electronic devices and computers late at night and simply go to bed an hour earlier — it’s not rocket science!
Featured photo credit: Hard work can hurt/normalityrelief via flickr.com