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Beyond 40 Hours: The Dangers of Long Working Hours

Medically reviewed by Via Roderos, MD, MBA · Internal or General Medicine

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Apr 07, 2022

    Beyond 40 Hours: The Dangers of Long Working Hours

    Ideally, a person only renders 8 hours of work daily, which translates to 40 hours a week. However, for many professions, an 8-hour shift is sometimes not enough to get things done. Case in point: small business owners, those who work in the healthcare sector, and people who need two jobs to make ends meet, work longer than usual. But, how long can you really work daily without sacrificing productivity and your health? Can you work 18 hours a day? 

    The answers and more in this article. 

    The Dangers of Long Working Hours?

    When 8 hours is not enough to accomplish your tasks, how much longer can you work without compromising the quality of your output and the state of your health? 

    Long Hours Are Counterproductive

    First, let’s talk about productivity. Research shows that productivity falls apart after a person has already worked 50 hours in a week. Yes, you can still accomplish things past the 50th hour, but you become less productive. 

    Generally, that means you might be prone to make mistakes. Mistakes then mean more work, and in some fields, they mean injuries. 

    Being less productive also means you might need more time to finish tasks. For instance, before the 50th hour, it only takes you 30 minutes to do a particular task. After the 50th hour, you might need more – maybe 45 minutes, maybe 60 minutes. 

    Long Hours Are Unhealthy

    More than being less productive, working more than 40 hours a week appears to be hazardous to health. 

    According to the WHO, those who render 55 hours or more a week have a 35% higher risk of stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from ischemic heart disease compared to people who work 35-40 hours weekly.

    Studies also show that people who work 60 hours a week have a 23% higher risk of sustaining injuries. Additionally, individuals who work 11 hours or more a day are at an increased risk for depression

    Of course, you have stress. Reports say working 10 or more hours a day, 40 or so hours of overtime hours monthly, and rendering 60 or more hours a week tend to create stressful feelings

    Long working hours are also related to sleep troubles, fatigue, and negative health behaviors (smoking, drinking alcohol, etc.)

    Can You Work 18 Hours A Day?

    Can you work 18 hours a day? 

    If it’s just a matter of “can,” then yes. In fact, many people are capable of working for 18 hours when they really need to. 

    But based on reports, it appears that pulling off 18 hours daily might not only be counterproductive; it might also affect your health. 

    18 hours daily means 90 hours of work a week. 

    Note that based on studies, productivity plummets after the 50th hour.  From the 55th hour and beyond, the risk of cardiovascular diseases and depression increases. Working for 60 hours or more weekly also increases your risk for injuries. 

    The bottom line is you can work 18 hours a day, but it’s not advisable to do it, especially regularly. 

    Are You Overworked?

    If your time-in and time-out sheet shows that you’re working for more than 10 hours daily, you might experience job burnout. Signs include:

    • Being irritable or impatient
    • Lack of focus 
    • Lack of energy to be productive
    • Not feeling satisfaction with your achievements
    • Sleep troubles
    • Using alcohol, smoking, or drugs to feel better (or not to feel)

    If you have these signs, you need to act. Maybe you need to take a break from work or open up about your difficulties to your supervisor. 

    Key Takeaways

    Can you work 18 hours a day? Yes. But experts do not recommend it as reports show it’s counterproductive and hazardous to your overall health. If you have signs of job burnout, you need to act. Delegating, talking to your supervisor, and being more organized might help.

    Learn more about Stress Management here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Via Roderos, MD, MBA

    Internal or General Medicine

    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Apr 07, 2022

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