You’ve probably heard the phrase “Don’t work too hard,” but have you ever stopped to wonder why someone might say that? Isn’t hard work associated with “getting ahead” in our culture? True, it often does pay off in some way; however, working too much can also have some negative consequences on your health, which should be considered.
Multiple studies have linked longer work hours (more than the standard eight-hour day) to a significantly higher risk of depression. WebMD suggests that the increased chance of depression may be due to having fewer hours available to spend with family, sleep, eat right, and exercise.
Another on-the-job hazard due to long hours is sitting. Many people have desk jobs and spend almost all of their working hours seated. If you also go home and park yourself in front of the TV or head directly to bed, your sedentary ways greatly increase your chances of ending up with diabetes, obesity, cancer, heart attack, and even death.
Extra hours at work leave fewer hours for sleep. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) found that the average person who responded to its Sleep in America survey got six hours and 40 minutes of sleep on a normal night. However, the recommended amount of sleep for an American adult is seven to nine hours. Individuals working 50 hours or more per week got even less sleep—fewer than six hours per work night. The NSF also found that nearly 30 percent of people have either fallen asleep or become very tired at work due to lack of sleep.
If you are included in these statistics, remember that too little sleep has many negative results on a person’s health. Some of the common results include decreased memory, weight gain, mood problems such as irritability, and possibly cancer.
Work also equals stress for most people. It is not new news how poorly stress—especially on a daily basis—reflects on a person’s health. Stress prompts the body to release hormones, which can increase blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar. Over time, that can lead to mental health problems, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and skin problems, among other maladies.
Although it’s often impossible to skip overtime here and there, whether it’s to finish a large project, help out some coworkers, or just a busy season for your profession, it would behoove you to not make a habit of it. Take time to take care of yourself by allowing yourself time for daily family and friend interaction, time for exercise and good nutrition, and time for sleep.
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