How Many Hours Should You REALLY Work? Science Has The Answer

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There are plenty of mistakes that people make day in and day out in their work day that result in a lack of productivity and poor work results. Whether it’s a chair in their office that makes them constantly uncomfortable or a habit like multi-tasking that makes them feel productive when in reality, they’re losing valuable time – we all make mistakes.

One of the most common beliefs is that a 40 hour work week is best practice.  If you’re an entrepreneur, executive or small business owner, it’s likely that a 40 hour work week is a foreign concept. But all those extra hours you’re putting in aren’t necessarily a good thing.

According to countless researchers and reports, longer hours and less sleep can actually be more harmful than good for your productivity in work. Here are some of the key findings from some of the various productivity and overtime research that showcase the fact that working more than 40 hours a week isn’t always a good thing:

  • Overtime was associated with poorer perceived general health, increased injury rates, more illnesses, or increased mortality in 16 of 22 studies.
  • Overtime was associated with unhealthy weight gain in two studies, increased alcohol use in two of three studies, increased smoking in one of two studies, and poorer neuropsychological test performance in one study.
  • Four studies reported that the 9th to 12th hours of work were associated with feelings of decreased alertness and increased fatigue, lower cognitive function, declines in vigilance on task measures, or increased injuries.
  • Six studies, examining 12-hour shifts combined with more than 40 hours of work per week, reported increases in health complaints, deterioration in performance, or slower pace of work.
Productivity hours
  • Some findings indicated that worker ability to exert control over work schedules may have influenced outcomes. For example, one study reported that 12-hour shifts having some flexibility in start times were associated with more favorable sleep quality, psychological wellbeing, and alertness, as compared with rigid schedules.
  • Length of vacation and commute time may also influence associations of overtime with health and safety.
  • One study provided support for increased risk for musculoskeletal disorders when long hours worked combined with additional domestic workload.
  • Individuals working 11 hours or more of overtime have an increased depression risk.
  • Excessive overtime has been linked to lower-back injury in jobs with a lot of manual lifting and higher blood pressure among those with white-collar jobs.

In a nutshell, 40-50 hours a week is the sweetspot. Anything more than that puts you at risk of being hit with a handful of health issues.

Wrapping It Up

This is Hustle & Grind. We embrace the idea of working hard and hacking our sleep. The key is to strike a balance and not to find yourself burning out and putting your health in jeopardy.

If you’re struggling with any of the issues highlighted in this research, revisit how many hours you’re working each week and figure out how to better balance your schedule.

Remember: Working long hours doesn’t always mean you’re being productive.

Pass this along to the hustler in your life who puts in crazy hours so they’re aware of the cons that come with this lifestyle. At the end of the day, sleep is important and striking a balance between your health and productivity is crucial.

Use your 40-50 hours a week wisely and ensure that you’re taking care of the things in your schedule that matter rather than the things that just feel good.


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