Everyone knows quality sleep is important, but getting more of it can be difficult. A growing body of evidence suggests early start-times for work and education may be to blame.

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The latest findings to link early start times to poor sleep hygiene appear in the January issue of the journal Sleep. A team led by Mathias Basner of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine analyzed 124,517 American adults' sleep and work habits and found that sleep hygiene could be significantly improved by starting one's day later in the morning, or by making one's start time more flexible. As the authors write:

U.S. population time use survey findings suggest that interventions to increase sleep time should concentrate on delaying the morning start time of work and educational activities (or making them more flexible), increasing sleep opportunities, and shortening morning and evening commute times.

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That starting one's day later in the morning leads to more sleep may come as an obvious conclusion, but the study is notable for quantifying this improvement across a large sample size. Inc.'s Jill Krasney summarizes the team's findings:

"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."

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What would an extra 20, 40, or 60 minutes of sleep per night do for your productivity? What would it do for society's productivity?

Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon via flickr | CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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