How many hours do you need to work per day? Is it okay to work 12 hour shifts?

Let’s talk with a psychologist.

“You can’t think the same thought all the time. This is very harmful! You can get bored and get sick from this, ”said the famous character of the Soviet cartoon and was absolutely right. The human psyche is a large system that has its own rhythms and cycles. If you do not take into account the peculiarities of its work, you can lose all health – both physical and mental.

<a href="">Sergey Savinov</a>” title=”<a href="">Sergey Savinov</a>“/></p></div><p>psychologist, specialist in integrative and applied psychology, founder of the SPHERE project</p>
 <script type=

The human brain is able to actively work for about 4-6 hours during the day.

Why is a standard working day 8 hours long?

This figure was formed due to the peculiarities of the work of the psyche. The central nervous system (CNS) switches within an hour from logical and computational processes to abstract ones. Such short breaks occur every 45 minutes of active mental activity. In 15 minutes, the system manages to unload – a similar mechanism protects the psyche from overvoltage. Hence the need, often intuitive, to go out for a “smoke break” every hour.


Sergey: The human brain is able to actively work only about 4-6 hours during the day. This is due to the metabolism of the body’s resources, which becomes much more active when performing complex cognitive activities. During the period of active hard work, the brain spends about 25% of the resources of the whole organism, when in the mode of relative rest – only 9%. Our brain is quite “lazy” and evolutionarily sharpened for energy conservation, survival, hence such limitations.

It turns out that in fact eight hours of working time consist of six pure hours of active mental activity of the brain and two hours of rest. Lunch break not included. That is why such recommendations are given in the Labor Code.

Is it okay to work 12 hours a day?

One can argue for a long time about why the working norm is set at eight hours a day. But here something else is important – the degree of loading and unloading of the body.


<a href="">Irina Yuzup</a>” title=”<a href="">Irina Yuzup</a>“/></p></div><p>PhD, pediatrician, nutritionist, specialist in integrative medicine</p><p class=The time of work should be correlated with the “harmfulness” of work: both physical (chemical waste, hazardous production) and psychological (primary school teachers). If a person who works in relatively safe production is not subject to stress and has the opportunity to take breaks during the day, then working 12 hours a day will not harm him.

How long-term work affects the body

Man is not a perpetual motion machine, unfortunately, he tends to get tired, sad, and ineffective. Working in an unfriendly team, stressful environment and unhealthy conditions can be dangerous even with 6-7 working hours.

The brain needs rest, like any other system. Otherwise, it leads to fatigue and loss of performance. That is why we have a need for a change in activity, due to which the work of neurons switches to those that were not previously involved.


Violation of the psyche leads to unpleasant consequences that are difficult to compensate for with ordinary rest. Namely:

  • fatigue (a natural decrease in the capabilities of the body and psyche);
  • overwork (accumulation of fatigue due to imbalance of work and rest);
  • monotony (weakening of conscious control, deterioration of memory and attention);
  • mental satiety (loss of interest in work, desire to change it);
  • problems with eating behavior;
  • emotional imbalance and burnout;
  • social maladjustment (violation of the ability to adapt in the social environment);
  • diseases of stress etiology (gastric ulcer, heart attack, nephrosclerosis, decreased immunity);
  • depression, if you ignore the signals of the body for a long time and do not give it a rest.

Long-term work negatively affects not only the psyche, but also the physiology. According to the doctor, 12 hours of sedentary work (subject to a sedentary lifestyle) is a factor in the development of metabolic syndrome (obesity, diabetes mellitus) and diseases of the musculoskeletal system.


Irina: Stress and excessive production of cortisol have a devastating effect on the adrenal glands, the cardiovascular system, and the brain. Continuous long-term exposure to stress increases the risk of cardiac and neuropathological diseases. Long evening work also leads to insomnia. The active activity of the brain, mainly before falling asleep, excites the nervous system and causes sleep pathologies. Which, in turn, starts the process of deactivation of the immune system and subsequent problems.

How to calculate your load rate

Sergey: It depends on individual characteristics and social environment. Therefore, some are more efficient than others. In any case, to calculate the personal load rate, it is important to take into account the basic capabilities of the psyche and in the future to look for your own favorable rhythm of work, based on self-observation and self-reflection. Do not forget about the need for proper nutrition, exercise, recovery, quality sleep.

Now Lifestyle has a telegram channel — follow the link and get fresh life hacks and tips even faster!

Want to get more tips and life hacks for a healthy lifestyle?

Subscribe to the weekly Lifestyle newsletter.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here