Think You Start Work Too Early? Scientists Agree

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One way to ensure that adults get more sleep? Delay the morning start time of work – or at least make it flexible. By Jill Krasny (Staff Writer, Inc.)

This post originally appeared on Inc.com.

You already know you should be getting seven to nine hours of shut-eye a night. But are you? Probably not.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 percent of employed U.S. adults clock less than that and the results aren't pretty. Not only does lack of sleep hamper long-term productivity, but it can also ravage your skin and your sex drive.

The Sleep Solution

Fortunately, Dr. Mathias Basner of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine may have a solution. After analyzing the sleep and work habits of 124,517 American adults, as recorded in the American Time Use Surveys from 2003 to 2011, he and his colleagues determined that all you need to do is start your day later, or at least make the start time more flexible. The research was published online in the journal Sleep.

"Results show that with every hour that work or educational training started later in the morning, sleep time increased by 20 minutes," explains the research release. "Respondents slept an average of only six 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."

Self-employed respondents fared even better, obtaining "significantly more sleep than private sector employees" and becoming 17 percent less likely "to be a short sleeper."

Flexibility Matters

Clearly, flexible schedules could make people feel better at work, though not everyone's convinced of their merit. Allowing team members some wriggle room in when (and where) they work has proved to help attract and retain top talent. But that doesn't mean much if senior leadership isn't involved in the effort, according to research firm Mercer.

A study published in the Academy of Management Journal offers a reason: "Managers often interpret a person's use of flex work options as a signal of high or low job commitment," writes Time's Nanette Fondas.

Specifically, "if a boss attributes an employee's need for flex to personal-life reasons like child care, as opposed to job performance-enhancement reasons like acquiring new skills, the boss tends to assess the employee as less committed and less deserving of career rewards such as raises and promotions."

Still, who can argue with better performance at work? A pro-sleep culture is healthy for everyone.

Check out more from Inc.com:

 8 Ways to Get a Better Night's Sleep 6 Ways to Relax and Learn at the Same Time 11 Habits of Exceptionally Flexible (and Successful) People Photo credit: Refat via Shutterstock.


About the guest blogger:Jill Krasny is a staff writer for Inc. magazine, where she covers the intersection of entertainment and startups. Prior to Inc., she was a writer for MTV and Esquire and an editor at TheStreet. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California with a degree in communication. She lives in New York City.