Science agrees that 9am starts are torture

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Amy Lewis

We’ve always known it but now it’s official; starting work at 9am is tantamount to torture, and a sleep expert has the science to prove it.

Dr Paul Kennedy, from the Sleep and Circadian Institute at Oxford University, believes that the traditional 9 to 5 is creating a sleep deprived society, and it’s not just a problem in Britain.

“This is an international issue. Everybody is suffering and they don’t have to,” Dr Kennedy told Yahoo News. “Sleep deprivation is a torture. Thirty days without sleep and you die. It has about the same effect as not eating.”

The problem with the 9am start, says Kennedy, is that the body’s natural pattern – our circadian rhythm – doesn’t fit with the typical working day.

Woman yawning at work desk computer

Most people actually can’t focus on their work properly until a few hours later, and the constant cycle of sleep depriving early starts means that we don’t actually catch up on that deficit until the age of 55.

“It is hugely damaging on the body’s systems because you are affecting physical, emotional and performance systems in the body,” says Kennedy.

“Your liver and your heart have different patterns and you’re asking them to shift two or three hours. Staff should start at 10am. You don’t get back to [the 9am] starting point until 55.” 

“Staff are usually sleep-deprived. We’ve got a sleep-deprived society.”


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Amy Lewis

Amy Lewis is a freelance writer and editor, a lover of strong tea, equally strong eyebrows, a collector of facial oils and a cat meme enthusiast. She covers everything from beauty and fashion to feminism and travel.

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