“Once upon a time you could go home and work couldn’t interfere. Now you have your laptop, your phone, your tablet: you are connected. So you are always on whether you like it or not.
This is the first generation that has had to deal with the ramifications of that” said a director of AXA PPP Healthcare which supported the study. (Professor Cary Cooper spoke out about this in 2015 – as I posted here.)
As a result home has become more stressful than the office according to a recent survey. This has linked the problem of making yourself available 24/7 with cardiovascular disease.
It seems more than 50% of the 550 workers surveyed at a London-based French bank are more stressed at home than at work as they try to relax while still thinking about work.
This researchers used wrist monitors to measure changes in heart rate and the results led the researchers to believe that it’s the spikes that are dangerous. “Dealing with work while at home is pernicious to health and is directly linked to cardiovascular disease. That is now measurable and before it was not”.
Stress levels were found to be dangerously high until about 2030 when young children went to bed but some people’s levels remained high until after midnight. A smaller number of them, over 25, woke up between 0300 and 0400 and some of them even started working during that time.
The research was sponsored by an insurance company which now plans to monitor staff in high pressure jobs to see if their ability to perform has been damaged by an inability to switch off. This is likely in the next three years.
Why people still put ourselves through this when they know (or should know) the health risks is hard to fathom although there is some US research which found that some people found work less stressful than being at home.
So is it job insecurity? Addiction to work? Fear of missing out (FOMO) or being off-line (FOBO)? Whatever it’s surely time to rethink our work-life balance and stick two fingers up to the American idea of work-life merge.
Well scientists at Oxford University now believe it’s the worst thing you can do.
Sleep is known to help consolidate memories so they are suggesting that sleep deprivation might be desirable in reducing long-term psychological effects by impairing those memories.
In an experiment two groups were shown a disturbing film which included a suicide. One group went to bed as normal while the other was kept awake by staff trained to stop them falling asleep.
In the days that followed all the participants were asked how often images from the film popped into their heads. The ones that slept were found to be more likely to experience flashbacks.
Professor Foster said “Maybe the routine treatment after such events should be gently to keep people awake – to sit with them and chat to them“. At present patients are often sedated after such events to help them sleep.
He also referred to experiences after battles in early cultures when it was more likely that the tradition was to sit round campfire celebrating the event with alcohol.
Post traumatic stress (PTSD) can cause a number of problems for those suffering from it. Not just the flashbacks but problems concentrating, irritability and a heightened startle response.
A recent American study showed that women under 65 who had suffered traumatic experiences and had four or more symptoms of PTSD were 60% more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke in later life.
Even those without any symptoms but who had suffered some trauma were 45% more likely to suffer cardiovascular disease compared to women who hadn’t been exposed to traumatic events.
Karestan Koenen of Columbia University said “Our results provide further evidence that PTSD increase the risk of chronic disease. The medical system needs to stop treating the mind and the body as if they were separate.Patients need access to integrated mental and physical care”