New York Magazine

by Melissa Dahl / September 4, 2015

A glorious three-day weekend has arrived for (most) “knowledge workers,” that euphemistic term for those of us who spend our days hunched over a keyboard, eyes locked for hours at a time on the screen ahead. But here’s the thing: The bulk of the research in medicine, sleep, cognitive science, and organizational psychology overwhelmingly suggests that a shorter workweek should be the norm rather than the holiday-weekend exception.

Many companies in the U.S. have already picked up on this, according to a recent report from the nonprofit Families and Work Institute, which found that 43 percent of the 1,051 employers surveyed offered compressed workweeks to at least some employees. During your three days of freedom this weekend, Science of Us suggests that you spend part of that time pondering the arguments for why more of us should be working fewer hours.

You’d be healthier. Long hours at the office are pretty terrible for your heart, decades of large medical studies have found. Just last month, The Lancet published a big meta-analysis — a study of studies, basically — that looked at the link between heart disease and overwork in more than 600,000 American, European, and Australian men and women. They found that the individuals who worked longer hours — 55 hours per week or more — had a 33 percent increased risk of stroke than people who worked less than 40 hours per week; the overworked employees also had a 13 percent greater risk of developing heart disease compared to their peers who worked fewer hours.


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