Lack of Sleep, Increased Work Hours, Detrimental to Long-term Health
In today’s modern age, the increasing pressure and demands of society requires individuals to clock in more hours, inside the office.
Because of this, individuals tend to work more and sleep less. Which could bring adverse effects in the short-term, and long-term.
Several studies show that long working hours can have lasting effects on health and well-being. Specially on cardiovascular and mental health.
On the other hand, a flexible work schedule wherein employees can choose working hours and schedules are proven to have positive effects.
Despite the emphasis on empirical evidence which links a good night’s sleep on good health, many still fall into a poor work-sleep balance. In 1910, a normal sleep schedule was an average of nine hours per night. While in this decade, it has fallen to seven hours. It is not even uncommon to hear stories of officemates who only get four to five hours of sleep.
Among many adverse effects of lack of sleep include; higher risk of stroke, coronary heart disease, and even mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. Individuals who work more than 55 hours per week have an increased chance for stroke compared to those who work normal hours. Lack of sleep has likewise been linked to cardiovascular disease, and an increased chance of death via stroke.
Anxiety and depression links to long working hours. A study conducted for five years has identified that the risk of developing depression among healthy individuals is 1.66 times higher. While anxiety is 1.74 times higher, for those who work more than 55 hours a week.
Although lack of sleep and extended work hours both have bad effects on health, no study has yet dared to combine the effects of both.
Long-term Effects of Work-sleep Balance
At The University of Jyväskylä in Finland, researchers wanted to determine the effects of lack of sleep during the middle years, and how it affects physical well-being later on in life.
The study in specific studied the correlation between working hours and sleep duration.
Health-Related Quality of Life (HRQoL), measures the well-being of a person based on health. They monitored among around 1,500 businessmen born between 1919 to 1934. 26 years later, their HRQoL was measured again.
The results of the study, published in Age and Ageing, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society.
The study’s samples were white businessmen who clocked in more than 50 hours per week, while getting less than 47 hours per week of shut eye.
The researchers asked 36 questions to these individuals, which evaluates care outcomes in patients. In specific, it tackled working hours, sleep duration, and health issues.
As participants aged, they scored lower for general health, versus those who had normal work and sleep patterns. Those who had normal sleep still exhibited lower scores for physical functioning as they grew older. After accounting smoking and other external health issues not directly related to the study. The negative effects of increased work hours and / or lack of sleep was still evident.