It can sometimes feel as though we’re on autopilot – you wake up, go to work, come home, make dinner, fall asleep, and repeat. By the time we complete our standard eight-hour workday, we’re exhausted. Once you throw household duties and family into the mix, it can feel like you’re constantly running on empty.
There are plenty of factors regarding fatigue – sleep deprivation, dehydration, poor diet, and stress, just to name a few. With that being said, our demanding lifestyles ask a lot from our body and mind. We have created a society in which a minimum eight-hour workday is the norm. Working less than full-time isn’t exactly an option for the average person.
According to a recent study by the Virgin Pulse Institute, 76 percent of respondents said they felt tired most days of the week. This seems to be the norm, but what if it didn’t have to be? What if we weren’t expected to work eight hours, yet businesses continued to thrive and employees were happier and had more energy within their personal lives? This is exactly what Sweden is currently doing and, so far, it seems to be working quite well for everyone.
Why Are We So Tired?
I think it’s pretty clear that our modern-day lives are demanding. We expect so much from ourselves each and every day that it’s affecting our mental and physical health. Instead of focusing on why we’re so tired, we simply amp up the amount of caffeine we drink to push ourselves further.
The current pace in which we’ve grown accustomed to is placing a toll on our energy levels. Many of us struggle to say no, taking on more and more until we crash. Trying to please everyone comes at a cost – your energy levels will suffer.
Addiction to Technology
Even if you do leave work at six, you’re probably checking your work emails and messages well into the night – never truly giving your mind a rest. This is an area that has been well-researched, especially regarding sleep deprivation. Due to advances in technology, people expect a quick response.
If you’re sent an email, it’s generally expected that you’ll reply within 24 hours, especially when it relates to work. It’s created an addiction to laptops and smartphones. When you’re winding down for the night and you’re exposed to less light, melatonin production kicks in.
This hormone is responsible for sleep, allowing us to obtain a good night’s rest. When you are lying in bed staring at your phone, however, you interrupt this natural sleep-wake cycle. The backlight from communicative devices can actually compromise your quality of sleep.
Of course, if you don’t sleep well, then wake up to do it all over again, you’re going to be dragging your feet. This cycle is reflected in many people’s lives, as they continually check work emails and messages even while on vacation. We’re not allowing ourselves to rest.
Although this can contribute to feeling tired, it’s much more complicated than that. With the increased consumption of processed foods over the past couple of decades, people are working longer hours but consuming less nutritious food.
We’re trading convenience for nutrition and our bodies are paying the consequence. Highly processed foods contain few nutrients and are often packed with sugar and harmful additives. Not only are you not giving your body what it needs, but these foods cause a spike in blood sugar. Initially, you’ll feel a jolt of energy, which is short-lived. Once you crash, you’ll feel lethargic again.
Make sure you’re eating regularly throughout the day. Don’t wait until five to eat a meal, gorging on foods that offer little nutritional value. Also, make sure you’re drinking enough water – consuming half of your body weight in ounces daily. Meaning, if you weigh 150lbs, you should drink 75 ounces throughout the day. Your body is 60 percent water, so dehydration is a major red flag regarding your ability to function at an optimal level.
Could Cutting Back on Hours Boost Energy Levels and Productivity?
We have grown so accustomed to our 40-44 hour workweeks that anything less would seem like a loss in productivity. Of course, employees would love to work fewer hours, but how would that affect their employers? Is it possible to work less, gain more energy, and yet still complete quality work?
The law of diminishing returns is a perfect example of this. Working longer hours may appear to increase the amount of work completed, but this is simply not always the case. Why? Well, because after x-amount of hours, productivity begins to dip. We hit a point, “the point of diminishing return”, where output begins to decrease.
Meaning, you could work an eight-hour shift, yet the last two hours may yield very little productive work in comparison to the previous six hours. We feel overworked and, by the time we go home, we’re drained. We wake up feeling tired and bring that exhaustion back into work – it’s a vicious cycle.
Would it even be possible to cut back hours? Would profits suffer? How is it that employees can achieve greater work-life balance while employers maintain steady profits? Sweden is now testing a six-hour workday, and the feedback so far has been great – from both employees and their employers.
Sweden’s New Six-Hour Working Day
In order to boost overall happiness and productivity, Sweden is making some serious adjustments to their workday. Big changes have already been implemented, as employers aim to increase the amount of work done in a shorter period of time. In turn, employees are able to enjoy their personal lives without feeling mentally and physically drained.
As mentioned, a 40- to 45-hour workweek leaves you absolutely exhausted. Sweden is most certainly onto something – something that is benefiting both employees and employers. This concept was already put into action 13 years ago at Toyota centers in Gothenburg. Since then, the company has stated that their staff is happier, there’s a lower turnover, and profits have increased.
You might be wondering, “How can a six-hour workday be more effective than an eight-hour workday?” It’s important to understand how challenging it is to stay focused for eight hours. In order to get through a full eight-hour work day, we often distract ourselves and, by the afternoon, productivity most certainly dips. Remember: the law of diminishing return.
If you were to work six hours without distractions, you would find that you would get a lot more done than you’d first believe. When faced with six hours to complete work, you will maintain focus and still have energy once your shift is complete. It’s well understood that work-life balance is critical for both health and productivity, so could this be the answer to chronic fatigue?
See Also: 5 Jobs Where you Get Paid to Sleep
Just remember, you do not need to accept the fact that you’re always tired. If your job is far too demanding, what is it that’s draining your energy? Can anything be done about it? Focus on making lifestyle changes surrounding diet and sleep while exploring your employment options.
If you continue to suffer from chronic fatigue, it’s important to visit your health care provider. They will be able to provide you with a more thorough explanation, especially if you’re suffering from a deficiency or an abnormal thyroid.
Are you always tired? What have you done about it? Share your tips and tricks with us in the comments section below!