According to Oxford University researcher Dr. Paul Kelley, forcing staff to work before 10 a.m. is equivalent to torture. It is also making employees ill, exhausted, and stressed.
“Before the age of 55, the circadian rhythms of adults are completely out of sync with normal nine-to-five working hours, posing a “serious threat” to performance, mood and mental health.” (National Post)
Thus, Kelley believes there needs to be a change in work and school starting times so that they fit with the natural clock of humans.
“Experiments studying circadian rhythms have shown that the average 10-year-old will not fully focus on academic work before 8.30 a.m. Similarly, a 16-year-old should start at 10 a.m. for best results and university students should start at 11 a.m. Dr. Kelley believes simply moving school times could raise grades by 10 per cent. He was formerly a head teacher in Tyneside, where he changed the school start time from 8.30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and saw the number of top grades rise by 19 per cent.” (National Post)
Kelley also states that staff should start work at 10 a.m. and that workers should not get back to a 9 a.m. starting point until they reach
Staff are usually sleep deprived. We’ve got a sleep-deprived society. It is hugely damaging on the body’s systems because you are affecting physical, emotional and performance systems in the body.
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.
The body is attuned to sunlight and it is not possible to change its 24-hour cycle. One must work to train their body to work at a particular time.
Kelley also states:
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 [obedient] because you’re totally out of it. Sleep deprivation is a torture.
Health Effects of Sleep Deprivation
- A week with less than six hours of sleep a night led to 711 gene function changes.
- Lack of sleep affects performance, attention, and long-term memory.
- It encourages alcohol and drug use.
- It leads to anxiety, frustration, anger, impulsive behaviour, weight gain, high blood pressure, lower immunity, stress, and mental health conditions.
In an effort to prove Kelley right, tens of thousands of children are starting school at 10 a.m. in an experiment by Oxford to prove that later classes can improve exam results. This is a four-year project based on evidence that teenagers’ natural rhythms are out of sync with normal school hours. The findings will be revealed in 2018.
I for one can tell you that, as a teenager, I had many friends who could not think properly until their third class. I also had friends that suffered signs of sleep deprivation. Setting up students to succeed is a huge step forward.
What do you think about natural sleep cycles?
To learn more about the study, take a look at the video below!