Men working long hours with little sleep may have poorer health in old age, study finds

Working long hours and getting too little sleep in midlife may cause diminished physical health in old age, according to a Finnish study featured in the journal Age and Ageing.

For the study, researchers examined the health outcomes of more than 3,000 white men born between 1919 and 1934 using data from the Helsinki Businessmen Study. In 1974, about 1,500 of the men — all in their mid to late 40s — reported clinical characteristics of their health, working hours and sleep duration. The same men completed a health related quality of life survey in 2000 when they were in their 60s and 70s, reports Reuters.

Researchers found men who reported working more than 50 hours a week and slept less than 47 hours in 1974 demonstrated worse physical health as old men than peers who worked less and got more sleep, according to the study. Men who worked long hours and exhibited normal sleep patterns in midlife also demonstrated poorer overall health in old age than their peers with normal work and sleep hours.

"The results indicate that it is important to rest if working long hours," Mikaela Birgitta von Bonsdorff, PhD, lead author of the study, told Reuters. She said employers should promote healthy living habits — which can lead to better sleep quality — to their workers.

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