Body clock scientist calls for massive societal changes to move the start of the business day to 10 a.m.
Employers worldwide have been “torturing” their employees with sleep deprivation since the industrial revolution by making them come to work when they should be sleeping, says Dr. Paul Kelley of Oxford University’s Sleep and Circadian Institute. The same goes for schools and their students.
The typical 9-5 workday and 8-3 school-day – which requires most of those trapped in the grind to wake before the sun – is out of tune with our natural circadian rhythms.
Jarring workers and children awake to an alarm clock before they’ve completed the REM portion of their sleep cycle day after day, creates long-term sleep deprivation that can lead to all kinds of physical and mental health problems, including diabetes and schizophrenia.
“This is a huge society issue,” Dr Kelley told the British Science a Festival in Bradford in 2015. “Staff should start at 10am. You don’t get back to (the 9am) starting point till 55 … We’ve got a sleep-deprived society.
“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.
“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.
“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.”
Sleep deprivation negatively impacts performance, attention and long-term memory. It causes anxiety, anger, stress, impulsive behavior, weight gain, high blood pressure, lower immunity and encourages drug and alcohol use.
Just one week with less that six hours of sleep each night leads to 711 changes in how genes function.
While young children may be ready to start the day by 9, teenagers and adults are biologically predisposed to not feel fully awake and engaged until around 10am, Kelley said.
While U.S. President Donald Trump has boasted in the past about getting only 3-4 hours of sleep per night, Albert Einstein reportedly slept for 10 hours a night, plus daytime naps.