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Work The Night Shift? Then You're Probably Sleepy

From the annals of science your mother could have figured out without spending any money on research comes the finding that working the late shift hurts how much and how well you sleep.

When does this guy go to work? iStockphoto.com hide caption

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When does this guy go to work?

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But don't take Mom's word for it. Sleep researchers from Washington State University looked at how start times of work shifts affected sleep patterns. The researchers tapped mathematical models to vary the starts of hypothetical work shifts by an hour and then calculated the results.

Drum roll, please.

You'll get the most sleep, if your job starts between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.

And when will you get the least? If you punch in between 8 p.m. and midnight. The absolute worst time to start work? 11 p.m. At least that's the start time that'll leave you feeling the most fatigued, the researchers figure. Start after midnight and you'll do a little better.

"Shifts of equal duration differ in how fatiguing they are depending on the time of day when they are scheduled," said Angela Bowen, who presented the findings at the SLEEP 2010 scientific meeting in San Antonio, in a statement.

The work was funded by the Defense Department through the Office of Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs.

Finally, whenever you go to work, we might suggest you try to sleep more. NPR's Allison Aubrey reported earlier this week on research showing that sleeping 10 hours a night (!) improves mental and physical performance.