Effect of stress is long-lasting, study shows

Nov 08, 2016

Clocking up extra hours doesn’t just leave you feeling wiped out by the weekend. A recent Finnish study found that people exposed to high levels of stress and sleep deprivation during their working years rated lower against every health metric in older age.

There’s plenty of research to show how working too long and too hard on a regular basis adversely affects our health – we’re at greater risk of stroke, heart disease and mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression.

But given most studies to date have focused on a fairly short period, little is known about the longer-term effects. As a result, most of us probably assume that once we stop working and have a bit more time to chill out, our health will return to normal.

How work-life balance affects health in later life  

Researchers at The University of Jyväskylä in Finland wanted to explore the relationship between working hours and sleep duration, and how these factors affected physical functioning and overall health in later life.

They monitored 1,527 male white-collar workers born between 1919 and1934, gathering data in 1974 and then again 26 years later.

Those who had regularly worked more than 50 hours per week and slept less than 47 hours per week during their ‘midlife’ (peak working years) scored lower for physical functioning, vitality, and general health, compared with respondents who had normal work and sleep patterns.

Read the full article from Medical News Today

Ticking time bomb?

According to The Australian Bureau of Statistics, 5 million of Australia’s 7.7 million full-time employees put in more than 40 hours every week, with 1.4 million racking up more than 50 working hours.

The Heads Up solution? Don’t wait until retirement to scale back on your hours and make time for relaxation. If you’re not sure how, check out our tips for a better work-life balance and get started today!

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