What are the perfect office hours for our body clocks?

Two-thirds of people in Britain say they would prefer an earlier start and finish to the working day, but for many it might be better to opt for later hours

What time we start and finish work is a much more important issue than it used to be. Gone are the rigid days of working standard office hours, as eulogised in song by Dolly Parton. More of us are being given a choice of when we work, especially those who work from home. And later starting times in schools have been found to safeguard teenagers’ sleep. One thing is for certain, though: you will never get everyone to agree on what time it is best to start work.

That said, a new survey has found that two-thirds of people employed in Britain would prefer to start work earlier than the traditional 9am, and finish before 5pm, with 8am-4pm being the most popular working hours. People tend to prefer a late start to their day when they are young. That reflects their biology, not their lifestyle. Between the ages of 14 and 24, our sleep patterns change because our body clock changes, and we wake up two or three hours later than most people. Early starts at this age can lead to sleep deprivation, health problems and poor performance. In contrast, people in their 50s have much earlier sleep/wake times.

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