I arrive at NAIT at that wonderful hour of eight in the morning. Do I see bright young faces eager to learn and grow? Not really. While there are a few people who seem awake and ready to go, most of the ones I pass look barely able to hold themselves up. They go about their morning in a forced routine. Like breathing or blinking, their bodies go on automatic pilot, taking them to the first class or study group.
In a study done at the Oxford University by Dr. Paul Kelly, grades would rise and productivity would increase by changing start times to 10 a.m. Earlier starts, such as the standard nine to five workday, take a drastic toll, not just on our work lives but our health as well. Dr. Kelly talks about the risk of sleep deprivation, such as performance, attention and long-term memory. That is but a sample of the problems indicated in his study.
While I’m sure there is room for individuality, our bodies are tuned to work with the sun. Now, being as far north as we are, the sun isn’t exactly out for a long time. There are times when I won’t see natural sunlight for a week except through the occasional window in class. It doesn’t give you a lot to work with when sunset is before five. But take a look around early in the morning. Hardly anyone looks raring to go. Not without a huge shot of caffeine in their system. That particular dependence might be another issue for another day.
Just think about how much better you feel after a good night’s rest. The few days of sleeping in hardly make up for the week of rising at 6 a.m. Those days go by too fast and exhaustion has already set in, preventing what could otherwise be a productive weekend. And for many of us, work drains that bit of energy reserve as well. That is, if our bodies haven’t shut down and gone into recovery mode to prevent one of the many nasty colds and flus from getting to us. It’s a nasty piece of business being both sick and tired once you finally get a day off.
But I doubt things can be changed at the societal level. There are so many complications, so many desires. People want what they want and they want it now. We will be stuck with our night shifts at the hospital or with security. Forever will we have our 24-hour convenience stores. There will always be early morning deliveries and all night tasks.
With our global economy, time does not stand still for Mountain Standard, because trade must go on across the world. But if you ever find yourself at the head of a corporation that has some freedom to decide when work should begin, maybe you’ll choose to start your staff a bit later in the day. It could boost your production by just enough to edge out the competition and see some extra growth. And maybe you’ll see fewer dead faces in the morning.
Joel Leckie, Entertainment Editor