Sleep Research Reveals Early Work Hours Boosts Sleep Deprivation

By Casey Morada - 12 Dec '14 10:26AM

There is a link between earlier start of working hours and less time spent sleeping, a new study suggests. It is recommended to have later start times to improve health.

In a study published in the journal Sleep, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania analyzed responses from 124,517 Americans adults who completed the American Time Use phone survey between 2003 and 2011, which is conducted annually by the U.S. Census Bureau. They discovered that for every hour that work is delayed, people get 20 more minutes of sleep.

"Results show that with every hour that work or educational training started later in the morning, sleep time increased by approximately 20 minutes," the researchers said according to The Daily Mail.

"Respondents slept an average of only 6 hours when starting work before or at 6 a.m. and 7:29 hours when starting work between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m."

The study shows that work is the primary waking activity that is exchanged for less sleep. It was found that private sector employees are 17 per cent more likely to be short sleeper, someone who sleeps less than six hours, than self-employed respondents. At 61 per cent, adults working multiple jobs had the highest odds of being a short sleeper.

Lead author Dr. Mathias Basner, assistant professor of sleep and chronobiology in psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School Of Medicine in Philadelphia said: "The evidence that time spent working was the most prominent sleep thief was overwhelming."

Results suggest that chronic sleep loss may be prevented by making work time more flexible.

"Potential intervention strategies to decrease the prevalence of chronic sleep loss in the population include greater flexibility in morning work and class start times, reducing the prevalence of multiple jobs, and shortening morning and evening commute times."

The American Academy of Sleep recommends that adults get about seven to nine hours of sleep a night, reported the CTV News.

"Getting at least seven hours of nightly sleep is essential to be at your mental, emotional and physical best, for whatever you will pour yourself into, either at work or at home," said Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler, president of the American Academy of Sleep.

But a 2010 report from the Centers for Disease Controls indicates that roughly 41 million U.S. workers, or 30 per cent of Americans, get sleep six hours or less a night. 

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