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Making people aged under 55 start work before 9am is torture, says UK sleeping expert Dr Paul Kelley, of Oxford University.
Kelley, a researcher at the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute said the nine-to-five working cycle is not aligned with our body’s natural circadian rhythms and this can make employees feel ill or stressed, resulting in poor productivity.
He believes there’s now a huge need to change the way society works, particularly in terms of what time work begins.
“The society is in the midst of a sleep-deprivation crisis, as the working hours we force ourselves to adapt to are often unnatural and unsuitable for our internal body clocks,” he told the the Daily Mail.
According to Kelley’s findings, the biological clock of a 10 year old is suitable for the nine-to-five lifestyle but as people get older their biological clock shifts – making an early 9am start unfavourable for health.
He explained that those between 24 to 55 years old should wake up an hour to one hour 30 minutes later.
“Depending on your age, you really need to be starting around 3 hours later, which is entirely natural.” he said.
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Kelley added that when professionals turn 55, their biological clocks will return to the same patterns as when they were 10 years old.
Most people are able to wake up at times against our biological clock but Kelley said this is bad for health.
“We cannot change our 24-hour rhythms. You cannot learn to get up at a certain time. Your body will be attuned to sunlight and you’re not conscious of it because it reports to hypothalamus, not sight. Most people wake up to alarms, because they don’t naturally wake up at the time when they have to get up and go to work,” he said.
Kelley also proved that the early bird does not necessarily get the worm.
As a former middle school head teacher, he experimented his theory on students by changing the school start day from 8.30am to 10am and found that the number of top grades rose by 19%.
“This is a huge society issue. Staff should start at 10am. Everybody is suffering and they don’t have to” said Dr Kelley.
Corporate are paying more attention on the importance of sleep in enhancing productivity. Major US firms like Goldman Sachs and Johnson & Johnson had hired sleeping coaches to teach employees the right way to sleep and provide support to enhance quality of sleep in employees.
The opinion towards sleep is changing as corporate leaders no longer see sleeping as a luxury but a key element to boost productivity.
If local corporates want to enhance sleep quality of employees, they might want to make reference to Mainland companies who encourage employees to take afternoon naps.