How early starts can harm our health

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Waking early is bad for the body’s circadian rhythms

I used to work at a corporate PR agency where we had to arrive work at 8.30, supposedly so we could spend half an hour reading the papers to get up to speed on the day’s events. In reality, it was just a wheeze to get people at their desks earlier. Most people arrived at work at 8.00, some even arrived at 7.30. To arrive at work at 8.30 made you feel like some tremendous and irresponsible slacker.

The effect of these 6.30 starts was corrosive on my mental and physical well-being. By about 11.30, the morning seemed like a distant, boring dream. I would be followed round in a fug of confusion, boredom and annoyance. I used to blame this on an incipient laziness, a character flaw which made me averse to early starts. But no! An 8am start is tantamount to torture so says an Oxford University study.

The early bird catches… a range of debilitating sleep-related issues

Starting work before 10am disrupts the body’s circadian rhythm which causes sleep deprivation, leading to exhaustion, irritability and general stress. Remember all those times you wanted to punch a fellow commuter in the back of the neck as they dawdled on an escalator: that’s sleep deprivation. Forcing people to disrupt their body clocks with early starts can do long-lasting damage to the liver and the heart, as it upsets their natural rhythms. Studies have already shown that letting teenagers get up later can improve their chances at school. Surely lie-ins cannot just be reserved for adolescents?

The torture claim made in the report I think is rather pertinent. The modern workplace often seems more Guantanamo Bay than Wernham Hogg: the sleep deprivation from early starts; the stress position of endless sitting in front of desks in bad chairs; the colleague chat as disorientating as being water boarded; the enforced repetitive behaviour.

We cannot change the nature of modern work but maybe we could do away with the early starts to better match our bodies’ needs and in the process making us happier and more efficient workers?

Which country is best for your body clock?

Sunday morning is when most people wake up happiest

Sunday morning is when most people wake up happiest

Work is one of most important considerations when thinking about moving abroad. You would never want a job to affect your physical well-being, so thinking about the work practices of your preferred country is an important consideration. While the time that people start work varies within countries according to different companies, we can find out the average time people wake up in different countries – a good indication of work culture.

Sleep Cycle, a sleep tracker application analysed the sleep patterns of 941, 329 users aged 18 to 51 from June 2014 to March 2015 and found the average time that people woke up.

If you cherish your sleep then avoid South Africa. Sleep Cycle found that on average South Africans woke up at 06.24. If you love your lie-ins then head to Sweden, the Scandinavian nation average wake up time is a leisurely 07:21 am.

What time do you wake up in the morning? Do you think later stats would help your overall performance at work?

[Image: ModmanSleep Cycle]