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  • Burning the Midnight Oil: Why It’s Counterproductive

    Burning the midnight oil might fatten your bank account or move your plans forward faster, but over the long haul, it's not really worth it.

    With the ever-rising cost of living, economic turbulence, and the increasing competition in the business and employment worlds, many people find themselves wanting to extend their hours at work. This often includes what is commonly known as burning the midnight oil, which simply means staying up late at night working or studying.

    But is it really worth it?

    Reasons Why People Work Late Into the Night

    The reasons for working late into the night may vary widely from one person to another.

    Perhaps you want to beat a strict deadline on an assignment, or you’re simply trying to impress a client/boss. Maybe you’re stressed out about something, and some time at work can help distract you from what’s bothering you.

    Why It’s Ultimately Counter-Productive

    While it may actually work to your advantage when done once in a while, burning the midnight oil so often can have a profound negative effect on one’s overall productivity.

    According to CBC, a Stanford University study conducted by J. Pencavel actually indicated that anything beyond 50 hours of working per week resulted in a steady decline in an employee’s productivity. An employee working 55 hours a week is highly likely to face difficulties getting work done.

    With this in mind, let’s look at a few reasons you shouldn’t be doing it.

    1. It affects your sleep cycle.

    After a long day at work, your body needs to rest and recover physically and mentally. And to ensure this, you need a good dose of shuteye every night.

    But the night oil often means staying up until very late in the night if not until dawn. It means sacrificing your sleep and putting your sleep routine in jeopardy.

    As far as science is concerned, one of the side effects of staying up all night is poor sleep health. And for what it’s worth, even a few hours without sleep can have a huge impact on your internal sleep clock.

    A disrupted sleep cycle could mean many things, including lateness for work, reduced concentration, poor mood, and memory problems.

    2. Staying up late increases stress and burnout.

    When working late, there’s a huge chance you’ll overwork your body and mind.

    Combine fatigue with poor sleep quality, and what you get is an employee with stress at work, who could also be experiencing job burnout.

    Brain fog could become a mainstay, and keeping up with one’s daily routine may at some point feel impossible.

    Such an employee, student, or entrepreneur is unquestionably more likely to experience a dip in productivity.

    3. It has deleterious health effects.

    Studies have shown that spending more hours at work than you ought to can subject you to a myriad of health risks. Apart from stress and chronic fatigue, some of these include cardiovascular diseases, anxiety, mood disorders, and even hypertension.

    In addition to all these health risks, you are also more likely to suffer from being overweight or obese if you stay up late often. This is because you’ll need some fuel to keep your body and mind going, which means snacking up or eating more than you should.

    It can very easily attract bad diet habits, not to mention the lack of time to work out.

    While it can fatten your bank account when done cautiously, it may also lead to health conditions that may ultimately make you less productive.

    4. It robs you of your personal time.

    For most people, burning the midnight oil often means sacrificing personal time. The evening time you usually spend with family, watching a movie, or catching up with friends at a local bar is diverted to work.

    And all so often, the daytime-working lychnobite will also do the same on weekends, considering their sleep schedule could already be in tatters. It could even damage their personal relationships!

    With less me-time, personal relationship issues, and diminished socialization, a person is more likely to realize a below-average performance if not show poor productivity.

    5. It limits creativity and problem-solving skills.

    “Sleep on it” and “think outside the box” are essential values for most professionals.

    If you’re a little behind on the work and you have your deadline approaching, you can’t afford to spend the night hunched over the laptop or going through a giant pile of paperwork.

    Instead, you need to rest your brain and have enough time to think of creative and highly effective ways of solving your problem. But if you can’t sleep, it is all but impossible for you to think creatively.

    After all, the morning hours after a good dose of rest — between 9 and 11 a.m. — are often cited as the most creative time, whether you’re a morning person or a night owl.

    To sum it up, staying up late for work can be beneficial in a few ways. But over time, it can cause a myriad of issues that may affect one’s productivity.

    From excess fatigue to poor sleep, stress, and certain health risks, these issues are a real concern. This makes it crucial to think twice each time you decide to burn the midnight oil. Don’t forget to strike a balance between your work and personal life.

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