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Expert Says We’ll Be Much More Productive If We Start Work Until After 10am

Expert Says We’ll Be Much More Productive If We Start Work Until After 10am

For many of us, waking up early is difficult. Yet we try to do it. Why? Because everyone seems to be doing it. Everyone tells us that it’s good for us. Our work demands it of us. Society demands it of us. We are told in order to be successful we need to rise early. And so we feel pressured. We feel guilty. We suck it up. We obey this norm. But this is wrong.

Some of us are night owls. We are at our most productive at night; when it’s peaceful and there are no distractions. We enjoy rising later to account for our unique habits. And this is fine. Everyone is different. No one person is the same. It’s time then to stop feeling guilty because of what society regards as normal. What is normal anyway? Normal is relative.

The next time someone mentions the importance of rising early – mention that there is a growing body of research highlighting that we are in a sleep deprivation crisis and that rising later is better to allow for our unique body clock.

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We are in a sleep deprivation crisis

Society is in the midst of a sleep deprivation crisis as we force ourselves to adapt to working hours that are not in sync with our Circadian rhythms (natural body clock that regulates the timing of sleeplessness and wakefulness):

“At the age of 10 you get up and go to school and it fits in with our nine-to-five lifestyle. When you are about 55 you also settle into the same pattern. But in between it changes a huge amount and, depending on your age, you really need to be starting around three hours later, which is entirely natural.” – Dr Paul Kelley (Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute at the University of Oxford), The Guardian.

Health Implications

The biggest age group affected is 14-24-year-olds. This has far reaching implications for our health. Kelley says the following, speaking to the Telegraph:

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‘It is hugely damaging on the body’s systems because you are affecting physical, emotional and performance systems in the body…”

Kelley goes on to say that sleep deprivation can lead to exhaustion, frustration, anxiety, weight gain, high blood pressure, poor long term memory and can even improve chances of stimulant (alcohol) use and risk-taking.

Proposed 10:00am work starts, backed by science

As a result, Kelley advocates 08:30 am starts (or later) for 10-year-olds, 10am starts for 16-year-olds and 11:00 am starts for 18-year-olds. Not only does he recommend a change among the younger generation, he also recommends that staff should start work at 10:00 am as they are often sleep deprived – which directly affects their health, performance and output. All this does have scientific backing.

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We all have melatonin – a hormone that assists in regulating our body clock. According to the National Sleep Foundation, teenagers don’t start releasing this hormone until nearly 11 o’clock at night. The hormones pumps through our blood during the night and into the late morning.This makes it difficult for teenagers to rise early.

Neuroscientists also say that teenagers are geared towards going to bed at midnight and only feel fully functional by 09:00-10:00am the next morning. In a pilot study conducted by Kelley himself who was formerly a head teacher at Monkseaton Middle School,  starting hours were moved from 08:30-10:00 am. There was a marked increased in the improvement of grades by 19%. Kelley is currently part of a wider study, involving 100 schools across Britan where they are experimenting with different start times. The study which started in 2014 will end in 2018.

What this all means

The effects of sleep deprivation are real. Society needs to consider revising work and school start times to allow for us to follow our natural body clock. For 10-year old’s the current start times fit into a 9-5 lifestyle, with people returning to this pattern in their mid 50’s. For everyone else in between, later start times needs to be considered.

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This is especially evident among teenagers who have a distinctly different body clock from adults. And for adults, the demands of work and the “rat-race” imply that companies need to re-consider their times – as this not only affects the health, performance and output of employees but ultimately the bottom line of companies.

And for the night owls. Each of us is different. Waking up later is natural. it’s part of our biological clock. Stop feeling guilty about it. Start feeling good about the fact that you have known and have been doing all along, what experts are increasingly advocating.

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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