May 18, 2010 / 5:13 PM / 9 years ago

Canadian working women campaign for 25-hour day

Toronto (Reuters Life!) - Ever feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day? A group of time-challenged Canadian women are lobbying for a 25-hour clock.

Scott Gow adjusts a tower clock on test at the Electric Time Company in Medfield, Massachusetts March 6, 2009. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Jessie Behan, president and founder of the 25th Hour Coalition which is group of Canadian women who have changed to a longer day, said the struggle for women to maintain work-life balance motivated her to research the body’s natural circadian rhythms.

“A bunch of my girlfriends are having kids, getting married, and I was seeing the insanity of juggling all that when you’re a working woman,” she told Reuters.

“Women like myself are sick of living their lives by a 24-hour clock when studies have shown that they’re naturally set to a 25-hour clock.”

A 2007 study by Charles Czeisler, a Harvard professor of sleep medicine, found that a switch to longer days could be beneficial, especially for frequent travelers, shift workers, astronauts and those who experience trouble sleeping or waking.

In a similar study published in 1999, Czeisler showed that the body’s natural clock, or circadian rhythms, averages 24 hours and 11 minutes in both young and older people.

The transition from university student in Montreal to working woman in Toronto led Behan to want more time, but it was the thought of planning her pending nuptials that changed the want into a must-have.

Behan, who has been practicing the time shift for more than three weeks, adds an extra 30 minutes to each 12-hour cycle, allowing her to gain an extra hour of productivity.

“Now I have time to plan my wedding a bit more. It’s extra padding. It’s only four percent more time everyday but it adds up,” she said, noting the extra hour has afforded her the time to rebuild her deck and begin to teach herself Mandarin.

The current 360-degree clock has 720 minutes, giving each minute 0.5 degrees, she explains. With the new 25-hour day, 30 minutes is added to each 12-hour period making each minute 0.48 degrees.

While still a relatively small movement, the 25th Hour Coalition has 160 Facebook members, Behan is hoping for large changes.

“The goal is to get as many women on board; there is no harm in just trying it out and seeing. If it gets big, maybe the government will decide to standardize it.”

Behan is quick to silence detractors, pointing out the manipulation and measurement of time has been evolving throughout history — most notably, the current system of daylight savings time.

“Weekends were invented in 1732. The British prime minister just wanted to go hunting so that’s how Saturdays evolved,” she said.

A recent online survey by Reader’s Digest, which included 150 people in each of the 13 countries, suggests it’s not just Canadians looking for longer days. Readers were asked “what would you do with an extra hour” if given a choice between sleep, work, exercise and family time.

In Spain, half of respondents said they would like an extra hour in the day to devote to family time. The same was found for respondents in Brazil, the U.S. and Britain, who chose family time over sleep, which came in at a close second.

Only in India did work top the list with 50 percent of respondents claiming they could use an extra hour at the office. (Reporting by Ashleigh Patterson; Editing by Patricia Reaney)

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