Further reasons for proclaiming the Boomer generation’s time as the high-water mark:
People are sleeping between one and two hours less than in the 1960s due to the increased pressure of life and modern technology which makes it hard to switch off.
It is posing “serious health problems” as a lack of sleep raises the risk of cancer, heart disease, type-2 diabetes, infections and obesity, according to the researchers.
They say that modern technology and a 24-hour society mean many people are now “living against” their body clocks, which is responsible for huge changes in the human body.
Living out of sync with the body’s rhythm can affect mood, physical strength, and the risk of a heart attack.
The researchers from Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Manchester and Surrey universities warned the issue was affecting the whole of society, not just shift workers.
Prof Russell Foster, at the University of Oxford, told the BBC: “We are the supremely arrogant species; we feel we can abandon four billion years of evolution and ignore the fact that we have evolved under a light-dark cycle.
“What we do as a species, perhaps uniquely, is override the clock. And long-term acting against the clock can lead to serious health problems.”
Modern technology is one of the biggest causes of reduced sleep, evidence suggests, due to the high levels of light in the blue end of the spectrum emitted by computers and tablets. This type of light, which is also emitted by energy efficient light bulbs, is “right in the sweet spot” for disrupting the body clock.