Dr Paul Kelley, a clinical research associate for Oxford University’s Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute and one of the UK’s leading sleep experts, has said that forcing teenagers and adults to start working before 10am is the same as torture as it leaves our bodies stressed and exhausted.
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Kelley is now speaking out against the horrific atrocity of having to start work and school at 9am, emphasising on the need to change these starting times according to our natural circadian rhythms. Here’s what he had to say about it:
Your liver and your heart have different patterns and you’re asking them to shift two or three hours. 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.
This is a huge society issue; staff should start at 10am. You don’t get back to [the 9 am] starting point until 55. Staff is 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.
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 because you’re totally out of it. Sleep deprivation is a torture. This is an international issue. Everybody is suffering and they don’t have to.
This guy believes in his theory so much that during his stint as headteacher at a school in North Tyneside, Kelley changed the start day to 10am and he found that this move improved students’ grades by 19%. So clearly there is proof in the pudding.
Question is now – are we going to do anything about it? Probably not, because then bosses would be losing out on money and no amount of health concerns will get in the way of that. Perhaps schools should consider it though – I certainly would’ve appreciated an extra hour in bed back in the day.
If workplaces in the UK aren’t going to consider giving everyone an extra hour in bed, perhaps they could think about following in France’s footsteps and making it illegal to take your work home with you.