7 Ways Working Too Hard Can Seriously Damage Your Health

Hard work has always been seen as one of the most important traits of a successful employee. But in recent years, the definition of "hard work" seems to have transformed. American workers are expected to be thinking about their job all day, every day. Email and ubiquitous wifi connections have made it uncomfortably easy to work after-hours, on weekends, and on vacation. 

But — as the Amazon controversy has made abundantly clear — work-life balance is important to our mental and physical health. Countless studies have proven that working too hard can have a negative impact upon one's livelihood. Don't believe? Here are seven dangers of working too hard: 

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1. Working Too Much: Infertility

Working too hard could lead to difficulties getting pregnant. A recent study shows that women who work more than 40 hours a week or routinely lift heavy loads may take longer to get pregnant than women who do not. The study specifically focused upon nurses; an estimated 16 percent of those studied failed to get pregnant within 12 months, and five percent hadn't conceived after two years. Working more than 40 hours per week was linked to taking 20 percent longer to get pregnant. 

2. Working Too Much: Depression

It increases your risk of depression: A study by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and University College London found that people who work 11 or more hours a day have more than double the risk of a major depressive episode compared to those who work a standard seven or eight hour day. 

3. Working Too Much: Sleep

It can lead to lack of sleep — which poses its own set of health problems: Studies from the National Sleep Foundation show that longer work days have lead many to nod off at work, drive drowsily, miss family events, work functions and leisure activities because of exhaustion, and lose interest in sex. 

Lack of sleep can also have serious repercussions upon your health, and can lead to memory problems, moodiness, depression, a weakened immune system, and more. 

4. Working Too Much: Heart Attack

It can boost heart attack risk: According to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, those who work between 10 and 11 hours per day have a 45 percent higher risk of suffering a heart attack or dying from heart disease than those who work a seven- or eight-hour day.

5. Working Too Much: Stress

It can lead to added stress: Researchers at Tel Aviv University teamed up to find a link between job burnout and heart disease, and found that the most stressed employees developed heart problems at a 79 percent higher rate than their less-stressed coworkers. They added that factors that lead to burnout include heavy workloads, lack of emotional support and long work hours. 

6. Working Too Much: Eye Strain

It could ruin your eyes: Many of us spend 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (and beyond) glued to our computer screens, our tablets, or our smartphones. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean good things for our peepers. A study conducted by the Vision Council found that 61 percent of Americans experience eye problems, including dryness, irritation and blurred vision because of time spent looking at computer screens. 

7. Working Too Much: Productivity

Staying late doesn't increase productivity. Newsflash: working 50 hours a week or more actually makes you less productive. A study published by John Pencavel of Stanford University shows that employee output falls sharply after a 50-hour work-weeks, and plummets after 55 hours. Furthermore, studies show that people who log 70 hours or more per week don't accomplish anything extra in those overtime hours. In other words, avoid the pressure to get in early and stay late. You probably aren't getting much more done anyway.