Americans are spending longer hours at the office, taking less vacation and retiring later. While working overtime may be good for business, it may be taking a toll on your health. Take a look at how your overbooked, non-stop schedule increases your risk of health issues both now and in the future.
How Working Late Takes a Toll on Your Health
Clocking out late on a regular basis could lead to depression. According to a study from 2012, employees who regularly worked 11-hour days were twice as likely to develop depression compared to those who worked eight hours a day or less.
Dr. Steven Paulsrud of UnityPoint Clinic - Family Medicine - North Port warns that working more than 40 hours per week is detrimental to your health. “Working over 40-50 hours may be acceptable for some, but any additional hours affects the lives of patients and is not recommended. Working over 60 hours per week is not healthy for any individual.”
Lack of Sleep
On average, adults around the world get an estimated seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Americans, however, are on the lower half of this spectrum. The average American adult reports getting six hours and forty-five minutes of sleep a night, and 65 percent of those adults experience issues falling or staying asleep throughout the night. Sleepiness not only hinders job performance, but also affects your personal life. Fourteen percent of people miss family events, leisurely activities and work functions because of sleepiness.
Weight Gain and Obesity
Many jobs require sitting at a desk for long periods of time, and after work, many go home to relax on the couch rather than participating in physical activity. Sitting for several hours a day can be detrimental to our health. A study published by the American Journal of Epidemiology found women that sat over six hours a day were forty percent more likely to die in a thirteen year period while men were twenty percent more likely to die.
Being overworked could also potentially lead to stress eating, another factor of possible weight gain. Continual weight gain and lack of activity could lead to obesity. Americans who suffer from obesity are at a higher risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and high cholesterol.
Dr. Gati Dhroove of UnityPoint Clinic - Multi-Specialty - Cedar Rapids states, “Obesity and work stress form a vicious cycle. Our desk jobs, while increasingly ergonomically correct, also promotes a sedentary lifestyle. At the same time, increasing stress of long work hours and chasing deadlines often leaves less time, energy or motivation for meaningful physical activity. The long term result often is decreasing levels of fitness and increasing obesity, including increased risk of diabetes, cholesterol problems, cardiovascular diseases and even mental health problems, including depression.”
People often forget about the health of their eyes, and for those who work in front of a screen all day, eye health comes into play. Unfortunately, eating more carrots won’t counteract the strain your eyes experience from looking at a computer screen day in and day out.
Between 64-90 percent of employees who use a computer daily report experiencing eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision and dry eyes. These symptoms now belong to a disorder called Computer Vision Syndrome. Many people suffer from this new condition, due to looking at a bright screen all day and a decreased rate of blinking.
Many people identify work as a major cause of stress in their life. Between heavy workloads and long and hectic commutes, it comes as no surprise that a person becomes stressed. More specifically, 46 percent of Americans state that their workload is their main cause of stress. Stress placed on overworked Americans could lead to many other health issues in the future.
Dr. Steven Cahalan, of UnityPoint Clinic - Weight Loss in West Des Moines states, “As our world rapidly changes, we work longer hours with more technology. As a result, many areas of our lives are improved. However, Americans have become less healthy as technology replaces more and more physical activities in our lives.”
As mentioned above, stress can lead to a number of other health issues, including a less productive immune system. If you are overworked and suffer from chronic stress, your body produces an increased amount of cortisol. This can create inflammatory problems that compromise your immune system. Cortisol created from chronic stress suppresses these lymphocytes, leaving bacteria and viruses in your system and weakening it.
With the average American stating that their workload is their main source of stress, it’s no surprise many people also suffer from anxiety attacks. Anxiety is a psychological and physical reaction to stress. Large workloads, short deadlines and tight turnarounds are enough to stress anyone out and even cause an anxiety episode.
“Working longer hours can be related to the development of both anxiety and depression. When evaluating someone with anxiety or depression concerns, there is often a component derived from time spent at work and the expectations from work,” states Dr. Grant Peterson of UnityPoint Clinic - Internal Medicine - Ankeny Prairie Trail.
Tips to Prioritize Work and Personal Time
It can be difficult, but finding a way to de-stress can help you both mentally and physically. These tips may do the trick:
- Find time to get up and walk around at work for some exercise and a brain break.
- Weekends are for family and personal time. Leave the emails for Monday.
- Aim to work a normal eight hour day when possible.
- Make the few hours before bed a “no-work” time and keep your work out of the bedroom. This helps you associate the bedroom as a place of relaxation.
Make Your Health a Top Priority with UnityPoint Clinic
Between long hours at work, family and trying to relax, it can be easy to put your health on the back burner. Now that you know how being overworked affects your health in the long run, make your health a top priority! Schedule an appointment at the nearest UnityPoint Clinic location or message your care team through MyUnityPoint to stay on top of your health.