Do you have to go to work before 10am? You’re likely laughing at the question, as your alarm forces you out of sweet dreams and you play mind games each and every morning to pull yourself from the covers, douse yourself in water, drink a cup of coffee, and head to the office.
If you consistently dread getting out of bed before you’re ready, you’ll be happy to know Oxford University is on your side. The institution claims that forcing staff to start work before 10am is torturous and making people sick, stressed, and endlessly exhausted. They reason that, before the age of 55, adults’ circadian rhythms aren’t in sync with the typical 9-to-5 working hours. Forcing our bodies to break nature is actually a “serious threat” to our happiness, our mental state, and even our work performance.
Dr. Paul Kelley of Oxford University urges the necessity for societal change, in which work and school times reflect the natural body clocks of humans.
“This is a huge society issue,” Dr Kelley said. “Staff should start at 10am. You don’t get back to (the 9am) starting point till 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 2 or 3 hours. This is an international issue. Everybody is suffering and they don’t have to.
“We cannot change out 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.
“This applies in the bigger picture to prisons and hospitals. 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.”
Experiments even show that the average 10-year-old doesn’t begin focusing on academics properly before 8:30am, a 16-year-old 10am, and university students 11are. Dr. Kelley believes abiding by these new times would allow students’ grades to increase by 10%. A former head middle school teacher, he changed school starting times from 8:30am to 10am and found that the number of top grades rose by 18%.
Changing start times for companies would see a benefit as well. Sleep deprivation is a growing concern in today’s fast paced society, yet statistics have found that, around the world, 65%of people are sleeping an average of just six hours and 27 minutes every night. Meanwhile, it’s been found that going just 1 week with less than six hours’ sleep each night leads to 711 changes in how genes function.
Not getting enough sleep can result in a variety of health problems, like exhaustion, anxiety, frustration, anger, weight gain, high blood pressure, and more.
“Just by changing the start time you can improve quality of life for whole generations of children,” Dr. Kelley said. “There are major societal problems that are being caused by that. But the opportunities are fantastic. We have an opportunity here to do something that would benefit millions of people on Earth.”
In order to see how the 10am shift may be of benefit, tens of thousands of children are starting school at 10am, thanks to a ground-breaking experiment by Oxford. The team hopes to publish their findings by 2018.
“We have given all schools the freedom to control the length of the school day because they are best placed to know what’s best for their communities,” a Department of Education spokesman explained. “Allowing more time for supervised study and extra-curricular activities has been shown to benefit disadvantaged pupils in particular by giving them access to purposeful, character-building activities, which is why we are helping schools offer a longer day.”