Once upon a time, in a high-tech world far, far away, a 14-hour workday was the norm for me. In fact, working a mere 8 to 10 hours a day felt like a vacation in comparison. There was always some urgent matter that required my immediate attention, and I had a reputation for making it happen.
Many of you know exactly what I’m talking about. The boss comes in at 10 minutes to 12 and needs a report in an hour. You skip lunch and finish the report because it’s an emergency and, after all, it’s your job. Or, perhaps you regularly work late, or take work home. My friends who teach school are often up until well past midnight grading papers several nights a week. It’s easy to turn an 8-hour work day into a 10, 11, or even a 12-hour day without much difficulty. Add an hour commute to the mix, along with supper, homework, bedtime, laundry, soccer practice – the list could go on an on – and it’s easy to see that we’re probably permanently sleep deprived, exercise deficient, living on energy bars and sodas, Emergen-C supplement popping zombies! While we might be a little tired, there’s nothing to worry about. Aside from a few little aging bags under our eyes, our health is in good shape. After all, it’s not like living life in the fast food lane going to kill you or cause a heart attack….right? Right?
Well, maybe not. According to at least one Whitehall II study, long work days – never mind homework, soccer practice and all the other time sucking commitments in our lives - just might be robbing you of much more than just needed sleep or family time. Those long hours at the office may be leading straight to the door of the local heart hospital emergency room.
The Whitehall II study, also known as the Stress and Health study, began in 1985 with a group of more than 10,000 London civil servants. All participants were between the ages of 33-55 years, with two-thirds of the participants being male. A long-term study, Whitehall II has undergone nine distinct data collection phases since 1985. The original goal of Whitehall II was to examine how social inequalities contribute to disease.