From the age of 40: Over 25 working hours per week harm the brain

People work more than 25 hours a week, worsen their cognitive abilities
Are you over forty years old and often feel limp, forgetful and unfocused? That could be because of her weekly working hours. Japanese researchers now find that people can do the best cognitive performance when they work about 25 hours a week.

Many people have problems concentrating and are forgetful. The reasons for this are usually unaware to those affected. Researchers at Keio University found out during a study that working 25 hours per week has a negative impact on cognition. The experts published the results of their study on the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research.

When people work more than 25 hours a week, their cognitive performance deteriorates. For this reason, tiredness, concentration problems and forgetfulness can arise.(Image: Jeanette Dietl / fotolia.com) When people work more than 25 hours a week, their cognitive performance deteriorates. For this reason, tiredness, concentration problems and forgetfulness can arise.(Image: Jeanette Dietl / fotolia.com)

study examines 6,500 subjects for their cognitive abilities
The Japanese researchers investigated the working hours, the habits of the employees and their cognitive abilities in 3,000 men and 3,500 women. They found that working more than 25 hours a week worsened our cognition. Middle-aged and older workers should not work longer than 25 to 30 hours in order to see positive effects on their cognitive abilities. Women should not work more than 22 to 27 hours a week, experts suggest.

Overtime harms our cognitive functions
When people worked sixty hours a week or more, their brain test results were significantly lower than those of people who had not worked at all, the researchers explain. This fact indicates that overtime is detrimental to our cognitive function. But does the new evidence mean that workers should work fewer hours if they are over forty? The study looked at only subjects over the age of forty, so it is unclear whether there are differences when workers are under forty years old, the researchers say. However, several older studies have already shown that less working people are happier and happier. So there seems to be no reason why not all workers should work fewer hours a week, the experts add.

work can stimulate brain activity, but can also trigger fatigue and stress
work is a double-edged sword. It can stimulate our brain activity, but if we work too long and work overtime, fatigue and stress develop. These negative effects can potentially damage our cognitive functions, says study author Professor Colin McKenzie. In a test, people achieved the best results by working about 25 hours a week. People without employment had an 18 percent worse score in a reading test. In another test, matching numbers and letters had to be found, and again, the result was 15 percent worse than people who worked 25 hours a week. If people went about their work forty hours a week, it was already associated with a low cognitive deficit, says the study author. However, when working hours were 55 hours or more a week, more severe deficits were observed than with unemployed or retired people, says Prof. McKenzie.

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Part-time work can help
We note that differences in working hours,can affect the cognitive functions of middle-aged and older adults, the researchers emphasize. Such people could maintain their cognitive abilities through part-time work, adds Prof. McKenzie.(as)

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