Prof Russell Foster, a neuroscientist from the University of Oxford, said lack of sleep is damaging the health of the nation, with too many early risers trying to function with brain skills so damaged they could be drunk.
The comments follow studies which suggest that working night shifts speeds up the ageing process, and is linked to increasing risks of cancer, heart disease and type two diabetes.
Prof Foster, director of the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute, called for a change in attitudes towards getting an early night.
“There certainly is a culture of, well I only had five hours of sleep last night how fantastic am I?” he said. “In fact, we should be looking down on those sort of things – in the same way that we frown upon smoking I think we should start to frown upon not taking our sleep seriously.”
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