How Many Hours a Day Can You Work So You Don’t Hurt Your Health or Burn Out

How Many Hours a Day Can You Work

When you work 12 hours a day and write paper, you don't become more productive. But you run the risk of hating your life and compromising your health.

Overworking can not only make you money, but also harm your mental and physical health. We'll tell you how to avoid it.

How working hours are related to burnout

Burnout is not a medical diagnosis, but a specific type of stress. It is often work-related. It is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion, combined with a sense of lack of time and a feeling of inner emptiness.

Occupational burnout is included in the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization. WHO recognizes that work is good for the psyche, but points out that an unfavorable work environment can affect a person's physical and mental health.

According to the organization, about 264 million people worldwide suffer from depression and anxiety disorders, costing the global economy one trillion dollars.

The consequences of burnout at work can include excessive stress, fatigue, anger, irritability, cynicism, depression, insomnia, alcohol and substance abuse, as well as overeating, heart disease and high blood pressure, development of type 2 diabetes, and a weakened immune system.

Many people who experience burnout believe that it is not related to their work. At the same time, high workload and overtime work are some of the risk factors for developing this condition.

Working hours are directly connected with a classical type of burnout, when a person works more and more, trying to resolve professional issues or to get a significant reward. At the same time such a condition contributes to the deterioration of the employee's productivity, the frequency of tardiness and absenteeism.

Why Working Longer You Will Not Get More Out of It

There is a limit to the productivity of each person. Working longer does not necessarily mean you will be more efficient.

The classic 40-hour work week has long been tried to be recognized as inefficient. Back in 1930, famed economist John Maynard Keynes suggested that in 2030 the workweek would be just 15 hours because economic and technological advances would allow it.

In 2016, nursing homes in Sweden experimented with introducing a six-hour workday, but keeping the employees' salaries. In excess of that time, they were replaced by additional hired workers. As a result, the nurses were more productive and took less time off work. Many of the staff who participated in the experiment were upset by the news that it was over and had to go back to the eight-hour day.

This mode, however, is not convenient for everyone: the head of a Swedish technology company, Eric Gatenholm, tried to instill innovation in his own production. Gatenholm was dissatisfied with the results: employees complained that they were piling up undone work.

In November 2019, Microsoft Japan published the results of an experiment with the introduction of a four-day workweek. It turned out that it increased productivity by 40%. It was not without reason that Microsoft Japan conducted this experiment: Japan is a country where overtime is considered the norm and amounts to more than 80 hours per month per person.

A large study on the relationship between working hours and productivity was released in 2014 by Stanford University economist John Penkeiwell. He compared workers from the early 20th century and modern workers and concluded that task focus is much more important for an employee today than in the past, with it beginning to deteriorate greatly after 6 hours a day and 40 hours a week.

Earlier, another study by Finnish physicians found a link between working more than 55 hours a week and cognitive decline.

How the length of the workday affects our health

How the length of the workday affects our health

In 2017, Australian physicians published a study based on a survey of about 8,000 working people. Researchers concluded that a workweek longer than 39 hours is detrimental to mental and physical health.

For women who do all the housework, they even set the bar at 34 hours per week. And a study published in The Lancet found a pattern: People who work more than 55 hours a week are 33 percent more likely to suffer a stroke and 13 percent more likely to suffer from coronary artery disease.

The health consequences can also be specific to working in certain conditions. Consider them below.

When working at a computer.

According to the norms, it is recommended:

spend no more than 6 hours a day in front of a computer;

Take 10-15 minute breaks every 45-60 minutes;

Stay continuously in front of a computer for no more than an hour or two hours.

Sitting for a long time in front of a computer is primarily harmful to the musculoskeletal system and eyesight. Prolonged immobility leads to overstrain and curvature of the spine, the development of osteochondrosis and radiculitis.

Working a computer for a long time over strained eye muscles reduces the amount of tear fluid (dry eye syndrome), causes eye threads and impairs vision (computer vision syndrome). Also prolonged use of the keyboard and mouse may cause pain in the fingers, hands, wrists and shoulders.

In order to avoid these negative effects, take more frequent breaks and exercise during the working day, arrange your computer place correctly, and try not to sit in front of the monitor longer than recommended.

When working while sitting

Prolonged sitting leads to blood stasis, which in turn leads to tissue dysfunction, vascular wall damage and hemorrhoids.

When you sit for a long time, you use less energy. This increases the risk of developing a whole bouquet of ailments: obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure) and cardiovascular disease, high blood sugar and cholesterol, even cancer.

People who sit continuously for more than 8 hours a day have the same risks of premature death as those who are obese or smoke.

Being physically active for 60 to 75 minutes a day greatly reduces the likelihood of negative effects. It also pays to take breaks every 30 minutes during sedentary work.

When working while standing.

Standing helps you burn twice as many calories as sitting. But at the same time it can be just as bad for your health, because it significantly increases the load on the spine and feet.

Prolonged standing on your feet increases the risk of chronic venous insufficiency, varicose veins, lower back pain and foot pain, as well as complications during childbirth. The optimal amount of time to spend on your feet in a day is 2 to 4 hours.

It is worth understanding that long is understood to mean continuous standing on your feet for more than 8 hours without movement.

You should not choose flat-soled shoes for prolonged standing work. Experts recommend wearing shoes so that the heel was raised at least 6 mm above the rest of the foot, while the heel should not be higher than 5 cm.

Also work shoes must be in your size and support the arch of the foot. You can buy special orthopedic insoles.

The best prevention of disorders will be a combination of sitting and standing work. And after prolonged standing on your feet, do warm-up: stretch on your toes, stretch the muscles of the foot. After a day of work it is desirable to massage feet or to lift them up for 15-20 minutes to restore the normal blood flow.

If you feel pain in your feet and it does not go away for several days, see your doctor.

When working outdoors

Working outdoors and in unheated areas are among the special working conditions because they can cause general or localized hypothermia. Both impair coordination and the ability to perform precise operations, cause inhibitory processes in the cerebral cortex, and contribute to the development of pathologies.

According to the Labor Code, the employer must provide working conditions that are not harmful to the health of workers, in particular to provide paid breaks for warmth and rest.

The duration of breaks must be specified in the employment contract. The temperature in the room for heating should be about 21-25 ° C. Norms for the duration and frequency of breaks are laid down in the recommendations of the Federal Labor Office. According to them, 10-minute heating breaks should be taken every 2 hours at temperatures as low as -10 °C.

The employer who fails to comply with these requirements faces a fine of up to 5 thousand rubles for individuals and up to 50 thousand rubles for legal entities.

When working at night

Night work can cause restlessness, sleepiness, fatigue, inattention and disruption of metabolic processes in the body. It disrupts circadian rhythms – the body's internal biological clock, which is responsible for the body's transition between sleep and wakefulness.

Evolutionarily, our body is adapted to rest in the dark hours of the day. Therefore, even a long nap after a night shift will not help to compensate for its lack. Moreover, disturbance of circadian rhythms leads to the fact that about 6% of DNA chromosomes do not work properly, i.e. at the wrong time.

At the same time, long shifts (24 hours, for example) are no less harmful. And fatigue, in turn, increases the risk of heart disease and cancer, cigarette and alcohol addiction.

Circadian rhythms are difficult enough to shift so that the body adapts to being awake at night. To do this, you would have to work in bright light at night, wear dark glasses during the day, and sleep in a room with no light penetrating at all. Most people won't be able to do that. To avoid the negative consequences of working at night, it is much more effective to lead a healthy lifestyle: include sports in the daily routine, eat right and give up bad habits.

According to the law, when working at night (from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.) the working day is shortened by an hour, and it is equal to one shift during the day. Pregnant women and minors are not allowed to work at night.

Women with a child under three years of age, disabled persons and parents of disabled children, as well as employees caring for sick relatives are allowed to work at night upon a doctor's conclusion. Single parents and guardians of children under the age of five are allowed to work at night only with their written consent and in the absence of medical contraindications.

Remember that work is not the only thing that is important in life. Balancing work, rest and personal time will help you enjoy every day and get sick less.

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