Start Work at 10 a.m. If You’re Under 50

A couple of years back when I was working in a web development company as a content researcher, I remember how often I used to complain about those 8 a.m. shifts.

My workday would stretch beyond 12 hours and I found it difficult to sleep as work was the only thing on my mind when I got home. Often I got only 5 hours of shut-eye – an alarmingly low number given the seven to nine hours of sleep recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine for adults.

I don’t work there anymore, but the fact remains that almost 40 percent of Americans are not sleeping as much as they should. And according to a study in the journal SLEEP, the main thing they were doing instead of sleeping was working.

But there’s a rather simple solution to our sleep-deprivation: waking up late. A September-post in The Guardian emphasizes the need to start our workday a couple of hours later than usual unless we’re in our 50s.

The post talks about a paper published last year by Dr. Paul Kelley, a clinical researcher at Oxford University’s Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute, who notes that both children aged between eight to 10 and older adults in their 50s have similar biological wake-up times of around 6:30 a.m. So, 8:30 a.m. starts are feasible for them.

But at 16, a teenager’s wake-up time rises to 8 a.m. and by the time he’s 18, his natural waking hour is 9 a.m. Therefore, Dr. Kelley believes postponing morning classes in schools and colleges to align with the students’ natural circadian rhythms is the most logical choice. This improves their general health, cognitive performance, and test scores.

So, if your older teenager takes longer to get out of bed every morning, don’t blame him or her for being too lazy: conventional school starting times suit 10-year-olds, not students who are 15 or 16. For them, 11 a.m. classes make more sense.

In his study, Dr. Kelley also describes that the 14-24 age group is the most sleep deprived, losing about two hours of sleep per day. Those between 24-35 lose close to an hour and a half. The sleep loss pattern continues until our 50s at which point, the balance is restored again.

So, offices may have maintained the nine to five affair because it suits the sleeping patterns of bosses, most of them on the other side of 50 – not professionals in their 30s and 40s – and certainly not that 20-something intern. The “younger” lot should be allowed to come in later at 10 or even 11 a.m. while the middle-aged VP can start by 9!

Dr. Kelley’s suggestion, if implemented, should give office-goers, especially the night-owls, something to cheer about. Though it may seem radical, starting the workday late could improve employee well-being and thereby, the bottom line. There’s enough evidence that sleep deprivation can have a negative impact on the workplace, with employees finding it difficult to focus, think innovatively, and get more job satisfaction.

In a 2014-study, researchers looked at the yearly American Time Use Survey that examined the sleep habits of 124,517 people and found that for every hour later that work or class started in the morning, respondents reportedly got 20 minutes of more sleep. Those who report for work at 6 a.m. or earlier got six hours of sleep on average while those who came in between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. slept for seven hours every night.

The study, however, does not suggest that a late start to the day will lead to people getting more sleep. What it shows is just a correlation. Dr. Lauren Hale, Ph.D., and Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine Program in Public Health at SUNY Stony Brook made this observation in an editorial that appeared alongside the actual study.

Hale adds that for all we know, people might be eating potato chips during the extra hour they get rather than sleeping. Those who value a long night’s sleep may opt for jobs that start late and have more flexible schedules on purpose. The opposite may be true with short sleepers. There’s no way to know for sure unless we get employees and bosses to try it out.

Is it Natural to Sleep 8 Hours of Sleep?

Photo Credit: Todd+Warnock


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Fi T.
Past Member 3 years ago


Josephina Schneider

Ah! Hopefully one day there will be the option to work from 10-6 :)

Erika Acosta
Erika Acosta3 years ago


QA Watte3 years ago


Erika Acosta
Erika Acosta3 years ago


mrs m.
Linda M3 years ago

I prefer to be up with the birds. Fortunately, I'm permitted to work during the early hours of the day. If I had to return to working 9-5 or later, I'd be very sad.

John B.
John B3 years ago

Thanks Salim for the article and informative links.

Manuela C.
Manuela C3 years ago

I wish....

Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the article.