Is working more than 25 hours a week bad for the brain?

by L&D21 Apr 2016
Who would have thought that working less could be good for the brain?

Indeed, new research from the University of Melbourne has found working part-time for about 25 - 30 hours a week had a positive impact on the cognitive function for people aged 40 and over.

However, if they work more than three days a week, research found stress and fatigue could be detrimental to those positive results.

In fact, it found that those who worked 60 hours or more had brains which were performing worse than if they were unemployed.

The study involved 6500 Australians aged over 40. It was conducted by Japanese researchers and published by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research.

It focused on testing three different cognitive skill areas, which included a memory score test, a reading test and a perceptive ability test.

In all three tests it was found around 25-30 hours of work per week will maximise your cognitive skill.

It also found that working less hours and more hours than the aforementioned range reduces cognitive skills.

The study involved cognitive tests such as reciting numbers backwards and reading aloud misspelt words.

Those who worked longer hours were more stressed and had worse test results than those with lighter workloads. Consequently, the researchers to suggested that middle-aged people should embrace part-time positions.

"Work can be a doubled-edged sword, in that it can stimulate brain activity, but at the same time, long working hours and certain types of tasks can cause fatigue and stress," said the researchers from Japan's Keio University.

"People in old age could maintain their cognitive ability by working in a part-time job that requires them to work around 20-30 hours per week."