Alarm Clocks are Making Us Mentally and Physically Ill, Researchers Say

Waking up before the sun is throwing off our circadian rhythms, causing sleep deprivation and all kinds of disease, Oxford neuroscientists say


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, depression and schizophrenia.

“This is a huge society issue,” Dr Kelley told The Telegraph. “Staff should start at 10am

“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.

“Sleep deprivation is form a torture.”

Sleep deprivation impairs performance, attention and long-term memory, Kelley sausages.

It also causes anxiety, anger, stress, impulsive behavior, weight gain, high blood pressure, lower immunity and encourages drug and alcohol use.

Just one week with less than 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.

In a ground-breaking study, Oxford researchers are currently monitoring tens of thousands of British children starting school at 10am in an attempt improve test scores.
Fun fact: Albert Einstein reportedly slept for 10 hours a night, plus daytime naps.





3 responses to “Alarm Clocks are Making Us Mentally and Physically Ill, Researchers Say”

  1. Jessica Avatar

    I find that waking up to the sun is the best way for me to get up. The sun rises around 5 am here. Setting alarms causes me to have anxiety all night and I don’t sleep so I stopped doing that a long time ago. sleeping is important but its different for everyone. This article fails to mention the levels of serotonin people produce in the morning vs at night and how some people produce more at different times. This creates the difference between morning and night people. I would rather go to work early and get off early than sit around and wait for 10am to be able to go to work. That’s my version of torture.

    1. J Avatar

      As far as I’ve read and learned, serotonin is made/aided by sun exposure.. And is transformed to melatonin at night (which helps people sleep).. So it’s not making sense to me when you say people produce serotonin at night. That’s not the norm from what I’ve learned in school and personal research.

  2. Heidi Avatar

    Me too. I tend to naturally wake early. I like to exercise first thing in the morning, so I would be OK with starting work at 10 am at some times of year. In winter it would be best to maximize daylight hours not spent at work