It’s always been expected that people in certain jobs will have to be on-call sometimes. Doctors, for example, are always expected to be ready to respond to a job emergency. But tradesmen from plumbers to tow truck drivers, have also always had to be ready when work comes in, which can be at any time of day or night.
Being on-call can be demanding to the mind and body. According to a new study, the hours we spend on-call are almost as stressful as the hours we spend working.
The Stress of Being On-Call
New research indicates that people who are on-call would need almost as much time recovering from their on-call time as they would need to recover from actually being at work. Researchers looked at 169 Dutch on-call workers and analyzed how much time they needed to recover after i) not being on call, ii) being on-call but not called, or iii) being on call and being called. It turns out that being called made no difference in the amount of recovery time a person needed. Instead, being on call just resulted in a certain level of mental stress regardless of whether they were called.
Being on call was worse for those who had high work demands, poor mental health, and experienced high levels of interference between work and family life–which could easily be exacerbated by being on call.
The Implications for the Modern Workplace
Although being explicitly on-call may only apply to a limited segment of the workforce, to some extent the modern workplace has put us all on call to some degree. With our smartphones, we are constantly able to access our emails and constantly able to take calls. Using our smartphones for both work and personal calls means that coworkers and clients might not make the distinction between calling our office and calling us at home, and they might not make the distinction between work and off hours, either.
Unfortunately, this means that many of us may find ourselves spending a lot more time either working or being on-call that we ever had in the past.
Make Your Sleep Count
Because our rest hours are limited and more in demand because of the modern workplace, it’s important that we take full advantage of that rest time. If you have a partner who snores loudly keeping you awake, you may be less forgiving of this personal trait, which can lead to serious conflicts over the need for snoring treatment.
If, on the other hand, you are a snorer who might also have sleep apnea, you might find that no matter how much sleep you get, you never feel rested. If this is the case, then you need to get sleep apnea treatment.