You’ve probably had days where you forget stuff, times when your brain seems to turn to sludge and you can’t remember your own name, let alone anyone else’s. Imagine every day being like that.
We take our mind power for granted, especially when we’re working and apparently exercising it. Crosswords and brain exercises are for oldies, right?
Think again. Trying to impress your boss or co-workers by starting early and finishing late just might backfire on you.
If you’re working more than 55 hours a week, your cognitive function – memory, attention, and reasoning – may be affected.
In January 2009, the American Journal of Epidemiology published the*Whitehall II Long Working Hours and Cognitive Function study. It found that middle-aged people working 55 hours a week didn’t perform as well as those working 40 hours a week.
In fact, when it comes to memory, attention and reasoning, the decline from overworking is on a similar scale to smoking, a known risk factor in dementia.
Even if you haven’t hit middle-age, you’ll be forming work habits that you’ll find hard to break later.
So whatever stage of life you’re at, aim for balance (and I’m not talking bank balance). Your mind-power may depend on it.
*Stephen Pincock talks about this and other intelligence research in his book Get Smart! 100 Lifestyle Choices That Affect Your Brain (published by Hardie Grant Books).