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Workaholics Run Greater Risk of Developing Dementia

Workaholics Run Greater Risk of Developing Dementia

Workaholics work longer hours. That means their brains are active more hours of the day, right? That must mean they have sharper mental skills, right?

Wrong.

In fact, the opposite appears to be true. Research has linked longer work hours with weaker mental skills. In fact, one study of 2,214 middle-aged civil servants concluded that employees working more than 55 hours a week had poorer mental skills than their 40-hour-work-week counterparts.

Brain imaging specialist Dr. Daniel Amen reminds us to think of the brain as a computer that needs to hibernate, shut down and re-boot on a regular basis to prevent brain fatigue. Quoting the conclusions of a different study-this one tracking 7000 workers over more than a decade-Dr. Amen says that working 11 hours a day or more not only increases your risk of heart attack by 67 percent, it also increases your chances of developing dementia later in life.

While researchers aren't sure exactly why people who work longer hours have weaker mental skills and are at greater risk of dementia, they say factors may include getting less sleep, experiencing more stress, and/or embracing a less healthy lifestyle. In one study, employees who worked longer hours also reported sleeping less, having more symptoms of depression, and using more alcohol than people who worked a normal 40 hour week.

"This study should give pause for thought to workaholics," reflected Harriet Millward of the Alzheimer's Research Trust. "We already know that dementia risk can be reduced by maintaining a balanced diet, regular social interactions and exercising both our bodies and minds. Perhaps work-life balance should be accounted for, too."

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