Alaska Sleep Education Center

Here’s Why You Should Stop Working Long Hours Today

Posted by Donna Jefferson on Jan 3, 2022 1:42:00 AM

Businessman being depressed by accounting in his office

Did you know that heading off to work in the early morning and returning in the evening may just be bad for your productivity? New research and ways of thinking are finally challenging the 9-5 norm that society has become so familiar with.

Revolutionary studies are proving that working long hours is no longer optimal for a multitude of reasons. The remedy? Decreasing the length of the working day! Yes, less really is more. Here’s why: 


Decreasing Working Hours Improves Employee Morale 

A decade-long study conducted in Sweden showed that working fewer hours directly equated to decreased levels of stress, negative emotions, and exhaustion. Working less hours allows you more time for relaxation, personal interests, and family, which is positive for your general well-being.

Places of work also tend to be high-stress environments. Spending less time per day in a stressful environment is undoubtedly better for the psyche. This is not just good news for yourself, it also benefits the company in question, as happier people tend to work and learn better.

In countries like Iceland, this theory has been trialed and tested too, and the results are hugely successful. Basically, having more time for yourself makes you a more energized and less stressed employee and that benefits everyone.


Less Work, More Sleep 

A healthy sleep routine is highly important for the well-being of anyone. There are many ways you can improve your sleep, and this is something everyone should try. It turns out that sleep is also essential for optimum productivity in the workplace. Whilst people tend to think that sleeping less means getting more done, quite the opposite is true.

The more sleep you get the more you can get done. Basically, a good night’s rest is more of a game-changer than you may think. The reason is that sleep is vital for the efficiency of the memory functions in your brain.

Retaining information whet you are sleep-deprived is far more difficult. Basically, our neurons need a break (sleep) in order to reach their full potential. When youre exhausted, your neurons are too. So, it’s best to charge them up with a good night’s rest so you can work efficiently. Decreasing the amount of time you spend working means that you’ll have more time for prioritizing sleep.


Working Long Hours and Disease 

Spending most of your week stressed in the office is bad for you physically too! Research shows that working long hours can directly correlate with disease. When employees work overtime consistently, they are more susceptible to heart attacks, fatigue and the probability of a stroke.

People also tend to turn to unhealthy external aids such as too much caffeine and junk food to cope with stress and exhaustion. Physical well-being is really important. You can’t work at your full potential whilst struggling psychically. Work that requires physical labor and tasks such as operating heavy machinery is also dangerous to do when you’re not at your optimum.

Tired people make mistakes. These mistakes can put many people in the work environment in danger. Lessening working hours in these cases is then perhaps crucial rather than optimal. It’s time to have a very serious word with your boss, or at the very least, your company’s suggestion box. 


The Good News 

The good news is that these factors are finally getting talked about more than ever before. From these vital societal conversations, changes are being made to the working structure. Even big brands like Toyota are starting to take matters seriously.

Martin Banck, the CEO of Toyota in Gothenburg, has been advocating for 30 hour work weeks for more than a decade. Passionate about the health effects of shortening working hours, Banck reveals his findings in Ted Talks. He explains that since shortening the working week, employees are getting more work done than before.

An equal benefit is that employees seem to be less stressed and happier in their work environment. Toyota is not alone in the 30-hour workweek revolution. A computer company in Oregon lessened the working week due to an urgent financial situation. The results were undeniably successful.

Productivity does not depend on long working hours. Just as much and even more work can be completed successfully on a less consuming time structure. 


The Solution 

The answer is certainly to lessen working hours.

But whats the best way to do this?

Ending the working day at around 3 pm instead of 5 pm is one way to do it. This way people have more free time to enjoy their personal lives and get adequate sleep.

Another way is to simply make the working week four days, instead of five. Relaxation time would then begin on Thursday. Employees could enjoy a long weekend to focus on their health and other aspects of their lives. They can then head back to the office, refreshed, on Monday.

With many businesses moving online because of the pandemic, these changes are even easier to implement. Employees can have a designated number of working hours, and how they choose to structure those hours is left up to them. 


Time To Push Back The Clock

The negative effects of working long hours have become prominent because of revolutionary research. Working long hours is detrimental to the mental and physical health of employees, as well as businesses.

People need to have healthy sleep cycles and plenty of downtimes to function at their best. Being able to properly destress, unwind, and have the right tools to do so is essential. Stress-busting, sleep-boosting exercises go a long way towards reducing life’s pressures. But if you’re simply using these as a crutch to make it through the next working week, you need to rethink the hours you’re putting in.

Productivity is not founded on lengthy working hours and the positive effects of spending fewer hours working are undeniable.

These positive effects include equal or improved productivity and healthier and happy employees.

Its time for businesses to follow Sweden’s example and rethink the time structures of the standard working model. Waving goodbye to 9-5 may just become a very real and positive reality for modern society. 

Americans receive little education on the importance of sleep, sleep disorders, and the consequences of fatigue, but industry leaders recently have been drawing attention to this issue. Employers, too, are in an ideal position to educate employees on how to avoid fatigue-related safety incidents. NSC supports science-based fatigue risk management systems in the workplace.

Alaska Sleep Clinic is here to help your employees be healthy and safe at work, whether it involves on the road work or not.  Call us today to learn more.

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