Scientist: Forcing People to Work before 10 AM is Basically Torture


(Photo: reynermedia)

Is your boss telling you to do actual work before 10 AM? If so, he's effectively torturing you by forcing you to work outside of your natural circadian rhythms. That's the conclusion of Dr. Paul Kelley of Oxford University, an expert on sleep. The National Post quotes him:

“This applies in the bigger picture to prisons and hospitals,” he added. “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.” […]

Lack of sleep has been found to affect performance, attention and long-term memory and to encourage drug and alcohol use. It also leads to anxiety, frustration, anger, impulsive behaviour, weight gain, high blood pressure, lower immunity, stress and mental health conditions.

-via Dave Barry


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If there is no link to the study, then it is near impossible to tell if a study is hooey. You may be surprised at how many news pieces I've seen, even with researcher quotes, that make claims exactly opposite of research papers they are discussing. Much more common are the many more news articles that seriously mis-characterize or overgeneralize.

Anyway, this isn't reference to a particular study it seems, although the person they name has direct experience running a school, and did write a review paper on the topic not too long ago.
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How much sleep you get is important, but when you sleep still is important too. There is a huge amount of research into correlations between working at different times, and the health problems that can bring. The body contains systems that try to synchronize sleep schedules to the cycle of the sun, and disrupting that has consequences. This can include getting much worse quality sleep even if you sleep for an appropriate amount of time. The degree of impact varies a lot from person to person and particular schedule.
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People adapt. A good feature. I remember my first factory job that began at 7 AM. The first few days it ate at me, but I did adjust. One summer I had a 5PM to 5AM shift. The money was good. I was able to buy my first car. The worst part was having no social life.
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What a bunch of hooey. Why adjust the hours of the school/work day when it's far easier to adjust a person's bedtime? When you go to sleep and wake up is not as important as how much sleep you get.
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