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Is a 10 a.m. Start Time the Key to a More Productive Office?

Source | LinkedIn : By John McDermott

Studies show employees work better when they can make their own sleep schedule, but most workplaces aren’t eager to change

The best piece of advice Anthony Bourdain has ever received is “show up on time.”

“Give the people you work with or deal with or have relationships with the respect to show up at the time you said you were going to,” the chef, author, TV host, restaurateur and all-around professional cool dude says in a September 2014 interview with Men’s Journal. “And by that I mean, every day, always and forever. Always be on time. It is a simple demonstration of discipline, good work habits, and most importantly respect for other people. … If you can’t be bothered to show up, why should anybody show up? It’s just the end of the fucking world.”


I only know this because my old boss made a point of sharing this article in a staff email one day. It’s important to note neither he nor Bourdain specified “mornings” in their advice. Bourdain spent his youth toiling in the restaurant industry, working vampire hours, so he’s not advocating being an early bird per se—just punctuality in general. But I couldn’t help but feel my boss’s email was in part directed at me, the one employee routinely late for our daily 9:30 a.m. meeting. (In my defense, I had a long commute.)

Some of you will probably scoff and say 9:30 a.m. isn’t early. To that, I say it’s all relative. There’s growing scientific evidence that some of us are hardwired to be night owls, and some research that suggest society’s idea of normal working hours is actually at odds with our natural sleeping habits. And with the working world increasingly obsessed with the health benefits of sleep, it raises the question of whether we need to change the working hours to better accommodate people’s sleeping habits, and whether the sleepier among us need to conform.

For most workers, 10 a.m. is a more natural wakeup time

People younger than 50 shouldn’t be made to work any earlier than 10 a.m., says Dr. Paul Kelley, a researcher at the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute Oxford University. Our sleeping rhythm is on a asymmetrical, age-based bell curve, according to Kelley. When we’re 10 years old, our natural wake up time is around 6:30 a.m. This gets later as we undergo puberty, and at 18, our natural wake-up time is 9 a.m. It gradually regresses from there, eventually reaching 6:30 again when we’re about 55.

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