In a society based around institutions that seemingly love to wake us up way too early (schools and prisons are two comparative and worthwhile mentions as well) it shouldn’t surprise anyone that work makes us do the same.
Of course, the CDC statistics aren’t actually cited, are hard to find and when you finally find them you discover that they the study is four years old.
Further, this study is, at this point only being displayed on the site for “historic and reference purposes only”.
Regardless it’s worth noting that this is just another way that work ends up controlling our lives and makes us more easily controllable.
The CDC reports:
Short sleep duration (average ≤6 hours per 24-hour period) was reported by 30.0% of employed U.S. adults (approximately 40.6 million workers). The majority of workers included in the survey (72.6%), reported that they usually worked a regular daytime shift; 3.7% worked a regular night shift, and 23.5% worked some other shift.
Workers who usually worked the night shift were significantly more likely to report short sleep duration (44.0%) than those who worked the day shift (28.8%) or some other shift (31.6%).
However, this translates into approximately 2.2 million night shift workers with short sleep duration compared with approximately 28.3 million day shift workers with short sleep duration. Among workers in all shifts, workers in the middle age groups of 30–44 years (31.6%) and 45–64 years (31.8%) were significantly more likely than workers aged 18–29 years (26.5%) or ≥65 years (21.7%) to report short sleep duration.
The Slate article I link above suggests having work places show more flexibility towards their employees but this ignores the fact that even though it’s a pretty intuitive fact that more sleep is better, it’s also well sourced and cited that more sleep is good for you that employers aren’t always particularly interested in their workers long-term health if they can still make money off of their practices. Though you could even argue that, at least in the long-term, work is going to suffer and so are the companies profits if they have bad practices in terms of being flexible with their workers.
But let’s say that the workers are given more flexibility of when they come in this doesn’t solve the institutional problem of work. It’s like giving kids more time to get to school. Sure, it’s a nice gesture and I support kids having more time to get into school so that they aren’t so tired in the morning. But in the end they are still in a place they fundamentally often don’t want to be in. If you’re not going to make school a voluntary institution than all of the reforms in the world aren’t going to change that basic fact.
Similarly bosses being nicer and having better policies about how early or late workers can come in doesn’t structurally or systematically do much to change the capitalist system we live under. It doesn’t magically make the jobs we spend our lives at more in line with our values or makes bossism as a general phenomenon disappear. Capitalism doesn’t stop being an exploitative system whereby a small amount of people are able to hold and concentrate wealth to the detriment of the majority, largely with the help of the state.
I mean, I completely believe the study they cite that:
“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.”
And even the Slate article admits why the managers may not care either way due to interpreting a person’s use of their work time and spare time as a sign of how committed or not committed job.
But then the Slate writer undermines themselves by asking who could argue with better performance at work?
Well, you just established who could argue with it: The people who actually hold power.
Liberals seem to have this split personality where in one breath they’ll identify the problems and the people who are holding back the change and then in the next breath ask who could possibly get in the way. These two gasps of collected (and useless) ideological statements blatantly contradict each other to people who understand that we have now are institutional and systematic problems. They aren’t just a case of “bad apples” and they aren’t just a case of small tweaks or appeals to basic reason being enough to change things for the better.
We can’t simply have nicer bosses or nicer cops for much of the same reason that the slaves couldn’t just have nicer slave-masters. It isn’t just enough to put some nice colors and design on thoroughly unjust systems. You have to tear the whole thing down instead and while you’re doing that make sure you build much more just, voluntary, equitable and mutually beneficial ones in its stead.
Otherwise all we’re going to have is much more placated people on a ship that doesn’t show many signs of sinking anytime soon. We need to be “alarmists” in the sense that we’re not going to be merely silent or under-emphasize the leaks in the boat or the fact that our system may be structurally unsound at its core.
If Slate (or Inc the publication that originally had this article) seriously wants to have workers get more control of their lives then they’re going to advocate things like self-employment, de-evolution of power to the workers in the forms of cooperatives and collectives. They’re going to be against the state and they’re going to want to remove so much institutional power form the managers to begin with so when basic logic comes into play at the workplace you don’t have gatekeepers telling you that work-ethic is more important than our health and our lives.
It doesn’t matter that “scientists agree” or that we have studies, it matters who has power and who doesn’t.
And at the end of the day all of the numbers and pieces of paper don’t stop the people with the guns and power.
Fighting back does.