Sleep Scientists Want Your Workdays to Start Later

Man stretching in bed, (B&W),
Photo: George Marks/Getty Images

A team of sleep scientists have an idea and I think we’d better hear them out: One way to ensure that adults get more sleep could be to focus on “delaying the morning start time of work,” or at least making it more flexible. 10 a.m. seems reasonable, offers a paper published online this week in the journal SLEEP.

After analyzing results from 124,517 American adults on their sleep and work habits, as recorded in the American Time Use Surveys from 2003 to 2011, lead study author Dr. Mathias Basner of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and colleagues found an (unsurprising) association between earlier starting times for work or school and less time spent sleeping. “Results show that with every hour that work or educational training started later in the morning, sleep time increased by approximately 20 minutes,” explains the press release. “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 American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep a night, though a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control shows that a third of workers only get around six. This new paper suggests that sleep scientists should advocate for later or more flexible starting times for work and class, and I sincerely wish them luck on this endeavor. 

Sleep Scientists Want Workdays to Start Later