Long Work Hours Can Cost You Your Sleep Quality and Mental Health State 

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Having a job is a crucial aspect of human lives as it allows us to earn money to provide for our basic needs, such as food, rent, and other necessities. As a student, you’ll often dream about finishing your studies and landing a high-paying job. Initially, it will be a great experience where you are still eager to learn new things and perform, but as time passes, your life will eventually be limited to home and work.

Apart from the monotonous life of being an employee, the number of hours people are required to work extensively impacts both physical and mental health, which can lead to serious consequences for individuals and organizations’ productivity. To shed light on this, a study published by Oxford Academic analyzed the effect of longer working hours on sleep quality, anxiety, and depressive symptoms in white-collar workers. This article will summarize some of the study’s crucial insights into whether working hours impact sleep and mental health.

Introduction

According to the study, long working hours are relatively common among employees worldwide and have been one of the most crucial topics in occupational health since the late 19th century. It is said that the number of working hours required for employees has potential implications that can manifest physically and mentally. 

Overly long workweeks significantly impact employees’ health, raising their risk of depression, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic illnesses, according to a study. More so, overworking could lead to sudden deaths caused by cardiovascular diseases for middle-aged employees. Besides cardiovascular implications, excessive working hours also contribute to developing or worsening mental disorders. 

Several studies also suggest that working overtime is linked to short or disturbed sleep and can correlate with reduced sleep quality. It is said that people with continuous sleep disturbance are more likely to be involved in accidents, have higher absences from work, have low productivity levels, and decreased quality of overall well-being.

The Link Between Overworking, Sleep Disturbances, and Mental Health

The Oxford academic study found that long weekly working hours were linked with higher levels of stress and depression systems, poor mental health state, reduced sleep time, and increased sleep disturbance. Some of the findings which support this claim states that:

  • Higher anxiety and depression symptoms are found among employees with longer working hours compared to those who work regular hours.
  • People who tend to overwork report having more frequent sleep disturbances and shorter sleep duration than those who work within regular working hours.
  • There is a link between poor sleep quality and anxiety and depression symptoms.
  • Women were found to work shorter hours than men, which may be because women have the primary responsibility for most household chores and childcare.
  • Those with higher-level corporate positions are more likely to work longer weekly hours than those with lower positions. 
  • Employees who work longer hours tend to take work at home than those working within regular hours. 

The findings support the need to maintain regular weekly working hours and avoid overworking to lessen the risk of anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders.

Key Takeaway

For economic independence and a fulfilling way of life, work is essential. Overworking yourself, however, can do more harm than good for you as it is linked to health conditions, such as higher risks of sleep disturbance and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Therefore, finding a work-life balance for yourself is very crucial to maintaining a healthy mental state and improving your productivity. 

Although earning is very important, your well-being should always come first so you can function at your best. Find time to practice self-care habits such as doing what you love to do once in a while, hanging out with your loved ones, or learning a new hobby. Employers can also help their employees by advocating for shorter working hours to give workers enough time to recharge after a tiring day.

Journal Reference

Afonso, P., Fonseca, M., & Pires, J. F. (2017). Impact of working hours on sleep and Mental Health. Occupational Medicine, 67(5), 377–382. https://doi.org/10.1093/occmed/kqx054

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