November 13, 2018 - 11:01 AMT
Oxford sleep expert says starting work, school before 10 am is "torture"

Dr. Paul Kelley, an honorary clinical research associate at Oxford University’s Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute and one of the UK’s leading sleep experts, says forcing adults and adolescents to start work before 10 am is tantamount to torture, leaving their bodies exhausted and stressed as a result of sleep deprivation, Medium says.

Dr. Kelley emphasizes on the need to change work and school starting times as per the natural circadian rhythms of adults and adolescents.

He told the audience at last year’s British Science Festival in Bradford: “Your liver and your heart have different patterns and you’re asking them to shift two or three hours. We cannot change our 24-hour rhythms. You cannot learn to get up at a certain time. Your body will be attuned to sunlight and you’re not conscious of it because it reports to hypothalamus, not sight.

“This is a huge society issue; Staff should start at 10 am. You don’t get back to [the 9 am] starting point until 55. Staff is usually sleep deprived. We’ve got a sleep-deprived society. It is hugely damaging on the body’s systems because you are affecting physical emotional and performance systems in the body.

“This applies in the bigger picture to prisons and hospitals. They wake up people and give people food they don’t want. You’re more biddable because you’re totally out of it. Sleep deprivation is a torture. This is an international issue. Everybody is suffering and they don’t have to.”

Dr. Kelley says that students in the UK were losing around 10 hours of sleep a week because they were forced to get up too early. So to “improve the quality of life for whole generations of children,” he calls for an end to early starts at schools, colleges, and university.

“At the age of 10 you get up and go to school, and it fits in with our nine-to-five lifestyle. When you are about 55, you also settle into the same pattern. But in between it changes a huge amount and, depending on your age, you need to be starting around three hours later, which is entirely natural.”