Employees Benefit From Natural Light, Study Finds

Sunshine-exposed workers slept better, had better quality of life, researchers say

THURSDAY, Aug. 14, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Natural light during the work day may benefit employees by improving their sleep and quality of life, according to a new study.

"There is increasing evidence that exposure to light, during the day -- particularly in the morning -- is beneficial to your health via its effects on mood, alertness and metabolism," study senior author Dr. Phyllis Zee, professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, said in a university news release.

"Workers are a group at risk because they are typically indoors often without access to natural or even artificial bright light for the entire day. The study results confirm that light during the natural daylight hours has powerful effects on health," she said.

The study included 49 day-shift office workers -- 22 in workplaces with windows and 27 in windowless workplaces.

Compared with those with little light exposure, workers with more exposure to natural light slept longer and better at night, got more exercise, and had a better quality of life. However, the association seen in the study did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

"Light is the most important synchronizing agent for the brain and body," study co-lead author Ivy Cheung, a Ph.D. candidate in neuroscience in Zee's lab, said in the news release. "Proper synchronization of your internal biological rhythms with the Earth's daily rotation has been shown to be essential for health."

The findings highlight the importance of designing offices that provide natural daylight for workers, according to the authors of the study recently published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

"Architects need to be aware of the importance of natural light not only in terms of their potential energy savings but also in terms of affecting occupants' health," study co-lead author Mohamed Boubekri, an associate professor of architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said in the Northwestern University news release.

Boubekri said a simple solution is to make sure that employee workstations aren't more than 20 to 25 feet away from outside walls that have windows. "Daylight from side windows almost vanishes after 20 to 25 feet from the windows," he noted.

More information

Mental Health America has more about workplace wellness (http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/workplace-wellness ).

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Northwestern University, news release, Aug. 8, 2014

All EBSCO Publishing proprietary, consumer health and medical information found on this site is accredited by URAC. URAC's Health Web Site Accreditation Program requires compliance with 53 rigorous standards of quality and accountability, verified by independent audits. To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at HLEditorialTeam@ebscohost.com.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Editorial Policy | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions | Support
Copyright © 2008 EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.

Don’t forget to laugh. Enjoying a joke, funny movie or light-hearted book can brighten your mood and decrease your stress.