One of the most pressing issues facing the UK is our lack of productivity compared to similar economies. “What has this got to do with sleep “You may ask. Well let me tell you.
Most of us work 9-5. There are some variations but we are often forced into a work day that doesn’t suit our own individual circadian rhythms. Dr. Paul Kelley, from Oxford University argues that our work schedule suits those over 50 most of all and because they are usually the ones running companies they are happy for work to start at 9. They see their younger employees as lazy, as they struggle to get in and function properly at 9. Dr Kelley, advocates a start time of after 10 for the under 50’s and although this is a start I think we should be developing a working day that allows each one of our colleagues to work at times that allows them to be at their most productive.
For example, I am a moderate early type when it comes to waking up in the morning as categorised by this questionnaire from the Centre for Chronobiology at the University of Munich (You can see what Chrono type you are by filling in the questionnaire here.) For me this means that I am my most effective from about 7.30 until 8 and I find it best to do challenging work early in the morning, do things like reply to emails and reading in the middle of the day and finish work earlier. However, some days, especially when Baby Sleep Geek has kept me awake, I find it useful to be able to start later and shift my day round a bit. This flexibility allows me to work more productively and when I am feeling tired shift my day around to suit my sleep. Other variations come into it, for example we are more likely to get less sleep (but feel better) in the summer as the light mornings wake us up so in summer we may find it easier to start earlier, while in winter we may need a later start time as the lack of light in the mornings prevents us from waking up.
So here is my advice to companies. If you want to be seen as a top employer, ditch the fruit, the free alcohol on Fridays and the ping pong table. Give you staff a work schedule that matches their sleep profile and support them by giving them flexibility in their working day. That way they will sleep longer, feel better and work more efficiently.
“And what about workers who have to work certain hours, such as shift workers and retail staff?” You may ask. Well that is for another blog, but I do have a solution!
The Sleep Geek