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Study: Flexible Work Start Times Could Help You Catch Up On Sleep

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Study: Flexible Work Start Times Could Help You Catch Up On Sleep
[Photo: Flickr user Khairul Nizam]

If your employees are sleeping no more than six hours a night, they may as well be drunk. One solution? Pushing out the start of your work day, according to a new study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM).

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The study’s findings indicated that the primary reason for sleep loss was long work hours and commuting, across all sociodemographic categories:

Compared to normal sleepers, short sleepers who reported sleeping 6 hours or less worked 1.55 more hours on weekdays and 1.86 more hours on weekends or holidays, and they started working earlier in the morning and stopped working later at night. The highest odds of being a short sleeper were found among adults working multiple jobs, who were 61 percent more likely than others to report sleeping 6 hours or less on weekdays.

From 2003 to 2011, the researchers surveyed 124,517 Americans through a computer-assisted phone interview, in which they asked the participants what they had done over the past 24 hours. Those who started work or school earlier in the morning were more likely to sleep fewer hours. Delaying the beginning of their work day by just one hour, however, could yield a 20 minute increase in sleep: “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.”

While the AASM suggests 7-9 hours of sleep, the CDC reports that 30% of employed adults get only about six hours of sleep a night. Lead author and University of Pennsylvania assistant professor Mathias Basner offered strategies to combat chronic sleep loss among the populace, such as “greater flexibility in morning work and class start times, reducing the prevalence of multiple jobs, and shortening morning and evening commute times.”

In other words, self-employment and setting your own hours looks pretty good right about now.

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