New Office Hours Aim for Well Rested, More Productive Workers+++Neue Bürozeiten zielen auf gut ausgeruhte, produktivere Arbeitnehmer ab

Here is an interesting article from the New York Times (24 December 2018), describing a real life experiment:

A growing number of businesses are encouraging their employees to work when their bodies are most awake

A few years ago, scientists conducted a real-world experiment at a ThyssenKrupp steel factory in Germany. They assigned the day shift to early risers and the late shift to night owls.

Soon the steel workers, many of whom had been skeptical at the outset, were getting an extra hour of sleep on work nights. By simply aligning work schedules with people’s internal clocks, the researchers had helped people get more and better rest.

“They got 16 percent more sleep, almost a full night’s length over the course of the week,” said Till Roenneberg, a chronobiologist at Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich, who headed the study. “That is enormous.”

In recent years, American educators have been paying increased attention to their students’ sleep needs, with growing debate about delaying school start times. Now a number of businesses are following suit, encouraging their employees to work when their bodies are most awake.

“It’s a huge financial burden not to sleep properly,” Dr. Roenneberg said. “The estimates go toward 1 percent of gross national product,” both in the United States and Germany.

Emerging science reveals that each of us has an optimal time to fall asleep and wake up, a personalized biological rhythm known as a “chronotype.” When you don’t sleep at the time your body wants to sleep — your so-called biological night — you don’t sleep as well or as long, setting the stage not only for fatigue, poor work performance and errors but also health problems ranging from heart disease and obesity to anxiety and depression.

A full 80 percent of people have work schedules that clash with their internal clocks, said Céline Vetter, an assistant professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder and director of the university’s circadian and sleep epidemiology lab. “The problem is huge,” Dr. Vetter said. “If we consider your individual chronotype and your work hours, the chances are very high that there’s quite a bit of misalignment.”

Put it this way: If you rely on an alarm clock to wake up, you’re out of sync with your own biology.

Studies on workers in the call center of a mobile phone company, a packaging manufacturer and an oil transportation company show that these employees are more stressed and may experience more work-related discomfort and pain. It’s the mismatch — not the hours themselves — that matters. A 2015 Harvard Medical School study found that for night owls, working during the day increases diabetes risk.


Hier ist ein interessanter Artikel aus der New York Times (24. Dezember 2018), der ein reales Experiment beschreibt:

Eine wachsende Zahl von Unternehmen ermutigt ihre Mitarbeiter dazu, zu arbeiten, wenn ihre Körper am meisten wach sind

Vor einigen Jahren führten Wissenschaftler ein Experiment in einem ThyssenKrupp Stahlwerk in Deutschland durch. Sie teilten die Tagschicht Frühaufstehern und die Spätschicht Nachtschwärmern zu.

Bald hatten die Stahlarbeiter, von denen viele zu Beginn skeptisch waren, in den Arbeitsnächten eine zusätzliche Stunde Schlaf bekommen. Indem sie die Arbeitszeitpläne einfach an den internen Uhren der Menschen ausrichteten, hatten die Forscher den Menschen geholfen, mehr und bessere Ruhe zu finden.

“Sie haben 16 Prozent mehr Schlaf bekommen, fast eine ganze Nacht über die Woche”, sagte Till Roenneberg, Chronobiologe an der Ludwig-Maximilian-Universität in München, der die Studie leitete. “Das ist enorm.”

In den letzten Jahren haben amerikanische Pädagogen verstärkt auf die Schlafbedürfnisse ihrer Schüler geachtet. Nun folgen eine Reihe von Unternehmen dem Beispiel und ermutigen ihre Mitarbeiter dazu, zu arbeiten, wenn ihre Körper am meisten wach sind.

“Es ist eine riesige finanzielle Belastung, nicht richtig zu schlafen”, sagte Dr. Roenneberg. „Die Schätzungen gehen von einem Prozent des Bruttosozialprodukts aus“, sowohl in den USA als auch in Deutschland.

Aktuelle Forschungergebnisse zeigen, dass jeder von uns eine optimale Zeit hat, einzuschlafen und aufzuwachen, ein persönlicher biologischer Rhythmus, der als “Chronotyp” bezeichnet wird. Wenn Sie nicht schlafen, wenn Ihr Körper schlafen möchte – Ihre sogenannte biologische Nacht – Sie schlafen also  nicht so gut oder so lange, kann dass nicht nur zu Müdigkeit, schlechter Arbeitsleistung und Fehlern führen, sondern auch zu Gesundheitsproblemen wie Herzkrankheiten und Fettleibigkeit, bis hin zu Angstzuständen und Depressionen.

80 Prozent der Menschen haben Arbeitszeitpläne, die mit ihren internen Uhren kollidieren, sagte Céline Vetter, Assistenzprofessor an der University of Colorado in Boulder und Leiterin des Circadian- und Schlafepidemiologielabors der Universität. “Das Problem ist riesig”, sagte Dr. Vetter. “Wenn wir Ihren individuellen Chronotyp und Ihre Arbeitszeit berücksichtigen, sind die Chancen sehr groß, dass es zu einer Fehlstellung kommt.”

Um es so auszudrücken: Wenn Sie beim Aufwachen auf einen Wecker angewiesen sind, sind Sie mit Ihrer eigenen Biologie nicht synchron.

Untersuchungen von Mitarbeitern im Callcenter eines Mobilfunkunternehmens, eines Verpackungsherstellers und eines Öltransportunternehmens zeigen, dass diese Mitarbeiter stärker belastet sind und möglicherweise mehr arbeitsbedingte Beschwerden und Schmerzen empfinden. Es ist die Nichtübereinstimmung – nicht die Stunden selbst -, auf die es ankommt. Eine Studie der Harvard Medical School aus dem Jahr 2015 ergab, dass das Arbeiten am Tag bei Nachtschwärmer das Diabetes-Risiko erhöht.

My Powerlifting Journey

Yesterday a colleague asked me how I got into powerlifting – at my age. This is a question I was asked many times before, so I thought I write a blog about it, to describe the beginning of the journey, the painful lessons, the successes, the benefits and what powerlifting does for me.


The Beginning of the Journey

I started lifting heavy weights in summer 2015 at the tender age of 54. As I had a month of work I thought it would be nice to get really fit and in shape, see what I achieve with exercise and good nutrition.
I had been a member of a lovely hotel health and fitness club for 20 years. However, none of the fitness routines such as treadmill, stepper and bike aerobics had improved my body, perhaps just kept me in reasonable shape.
I asked one of the fitness staff in the gym to tell me what else I could do “to get rid of the wobbly bits”. I was lucky as the guy I asked was also a strength coach in another gym. He advised me that I should start lifting weights.
I told him that I did not want to get bulky, look like a bodybuilder, but he said that there is “not a chance” as I would not have enough testosterone in my body to build big muscles.
So I thought I’ll give it a try. After a few weeks I saw results, my clothes felt more comfortable, I felt more energetic and lifting heavier and heavier weights made me feel very good. I slowly changed my nutrition, mainly more protein, less sugar, more vegetables. I learned about the importance of sleep, as the whole strength building process happens while sleeping (I’m sure there is a scientific rationale).
Soon I noticed in the gym that I lifted heavier weights than the young guys working out beside me. I looked up the weights I lifted on the web and the world records in my weight/age category were not miles away, in fact, I had already beaten the standing world record in deadlift many times in the gym!

Painful Lessons

So, thinking that I may have a talent for weightlifting I went to get a few lessons in powerlifting. Powerlifting is a form of competitive weightlifting in which contestants attempt three types of lift in a set sequence, squat, bench press and deadlift, which is called “Full Power”. Competitions are also held that include just one of these lifts which are called “Single lifts”, or a competition of two lifts.
In August 2015 I joined the Irish Drug Free Powerlifting Federation and in September I took part in my first competition in Ballina, Co Mayo, a “push – pull” competition, meaning bench press and deadlift.
What a (painful) learning opportunity! Similar to boxing, powerlifters compete in weight category and I thought, and still think, the weigh-in in the early morning is the worst part of the competition. Then I made so many mistakes, wrong shows, wrong belt, wrong technique, nerves….
I was disqualified after not being able to get one successful bench press. I wanted to drive home and cry! What had I been thinking! However after many encouraging words from another female powerlifter, I partook in the deadlift part of the competition, even though none of the lifts would be counted. I achieved three successful lifts, got a lot of applause and again I got a lot of encouraging words. Even though I left Ballina empty-handed, I decided to try again in another competition.

Successes and further goals

By now I took part in four world championships, in Wales, Italy, Belgium and Boston, USA. I broke and set some World and European records. I met other powerlifters from many countries, also passionate about powerlifting. My next goal is to partake in the European full power championship in the UK in May and beat my personal records in all three categories.

Benefits of lifting heavy

So far, I am enjoying the sport. Other powerlifters have described the relaxation aspect of this sport and the reduction of anger, the emotional wellbeing. I agree with them. No matter how much is going on in my life, I can put it out of my head for a few hours every week, without taking drugs. When I am preparing for a big lift there is this intense concentration with one single purpose – to get that weight of the ground. This is a quiet and meditative moment, I notice nothing else but the bar.

What does it do for me?

I think that my competitive sport enables me to manage the other aspects of my life – my hectic personal life, my managerial role in Trinity College as well as my scholarly work. Thanks to my sport I can completely switch off for a few hours a week.
I am now in better shape than ever. I am stronger, feel calmer, the best is really that the training, the discipline and determination gives me the ability to face better everything that life might throw at me!

Ski Break in Austria – Skiurlaub in Österreich


It took me seven years to complete my PhD dissertation (part-time). After finally submitting the document last week, including the changes requested by the two examiners, I took my family on a ski trip. I thought we all had deserved a break and spend some fun time together.  Initially it was strange for me, not getting up at five in the morning and work on the PhD.  But the beautiful nature in Austria, the ski fun,  the good food and above all, great company, makes  it easy to relax, as the picture shows.

Nach sieben Jahren reichte ich letzte Woche endlich meine Doktorarbeit ein, einschließlich der von den beiden Prüfern geforderten Änderungen. Jetzt sind meine Familie und ich im Skiurlaub. Ich dachte, wir hätten alle eine Pause verdient um einige schöne Stunden miteinander zu verbringen. Anfangs war es seltsam für mich, nicht um fünf Uhr morgens aufzustehen und an der Doktorarbeit zu arbeiten. Aber die schöne Natur in Österreich, der Skispaß, das gute Essen und vor allem die tolle Gesellschaft machen es einfach, sich zu entspannen, wie das Bild zeigt.

This Morning in Malahide – Heute Morgen in Malahide

It was a cold but beautiful morning in Malahide, so I thought I’ll go for a walk and watch  the sunrise at 8.06h. Wednesdays are my study days, so I did not have to catch a train to work.mWell, it was worth it – as the pictures show.

Es war ein kalter, aber schöner Morgen in Malahide, also dachte ich, ich gehe spazieren und beobachte den Sonnenaufgang um 8.06 Uhr. Mittwochs sind meine Studientage, also musste ich nicht mit dem Zug zur Arbeit fahren. Nun, es hat sich gelohnt – wie die Bilder zeigen.

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Nutrition – Strong, Simple and Sustainable

Many people have asked me what I eat and drink to give me energy for my competitive sport, powerlifting, while leading a busy life. Before starting powerlifting, I typically would have muesli for breakfast, a sandwich or a salad for lunch and a range of pasta dishes, stews, or casseroles for dinner, whatever was easy to prepare after work. I also would have snacks during the day, for example biscuits in the afternoon.  And yes, takeouts featured on my weekly dinner menu. Read more

Achieving  Work – Life Balance: Prioritise, Plan and Link

Recently I was asked to write a piece on work-life balance, describing how I manage to do my PhD (part-time) have time to train and compete in Powerlifting,  have a family and a social life, while holding down a full time  job. There is really only one simple response:

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