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Danish sleepy heads set out to conquer the job market By Thomas Borchert
dpa German Press Agency
Published: Thursday February 15, 2007

By Thomas Borchert, Copenhagen- Denmark's sleepy heads are starting to rise up against the horror of having an alarm clock wake them up so early to start a new work day. "Why should we have working hours forced on us like the monks and peasants of the olden days, if it's totally unnecessary in the computer age?" engineer Camilla Kring, 29, wonders and calls for a counter-attack of the "B Society" against the "Tyranny of early risers."

Kring is supported both by fellow sufferers as well as scientists, politicians and employers: Copenhagen's city council is already preparing special job offers for chronic late risers.

Some 6 per cent of the population belong to the hard core of sleepy-heads who are unable to get up early without self- chastisement, never mind function at work, Danish sleep researcher and neurologist Morten Moller thinks.

Scientists estimate the ratio of "B people" in the population to range between 15 and 25 per cent. "B people" is the Danish name for the sleepy head who will simply function much better if they are allowed to stay under the duvet for a bit longer.

However, many Danish late-starters suffer badly because work life, nurseries, schools, shops and public services are still geared towards early risers or so-called "A people."

"I have to consume huge amounts of coffee, cola and nicotine in order to get halfway into gear before 12 o' clock," advertising expert and writer Knud Romer says. If his alarm went off before 7 am he would know for sure that his final hour had come. And if his alarm rang before 9 am he would not have a chance for a successful day.

Kring does not see any reasons why a modern, wealthy and technologically-developed society such as Denmark should not be able to better accommodate the needs of late risers.

"Let the people start work at 11 am and finish at 8 pm," the internet site demands. What matters in today's working life were ideas, creativity, innovation, and therefore also "that people work when they are most creative."

In reality, however, society was still catering for those only who worked between 8 am and 4 pm: "If you pick up your child from nursery after 5 pm, you are seen as a dangerous criminal." Kring initially published her arguments only on the miscellaneous page of the Politiken newspaper. But that soon changed.

Within a week her "B society" counted 3,000 new members and had won the firm support of Danish Family Minister Carina Christensen: "We all live better if our existence is not constantly being dictated by an alarm clock."

Danish employers' representatives also supported the cause of the organized sleepy heads without any signs of mockery or sarcasm. With an unemployment rate as low as 3.9 per cent and a severe shortage of labour in virtually all sectors, all reserves have to be used.

"Late risers are very welcome in our care sector," Copenhagen personnel manager Kim Maskell says who predicts new working time models. Camilla Kring, however, does not only care about jobs: "We have to distance ourselves from the idea that early risers are seen as superior to sleepy heads."

© 2006 dpa German Press Agency