Natural light exposure boosts overall well-being
Scoring that corner office may have more benefits than just a nice view.
A new study from Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign says employees with more light exposure during the work day sleep better and longer, are more physically active and have an overall better quality of life than office workers with limited light exposure.
Published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, the study aimed at emphasizing the importance architects should place on designs that maximize natural light in the work space in order to improve the health and overall well-being of employees.
“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,” said senior study author Dr. Phyllis Zee, a Northwestern Medicine neurologist and sleep specialist, in a 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.”
The study found employees with office windows benefited from 173 percent more natural light during the day resulting in an average of 46 more minutes of sleep each night and more physical activity than employees with windowless offices, according to a news release.
Additionally, employees without windows in their offices reported a lower quality of life related to “physical problems and vitality” and more trouble getting a good night’s sleep.
In a news release, co-lead author Mohamed Boubekri, associate professor of architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said architects should be aware of the benefits associated with natural light, not only for better health but energy savings as well. He said workstations should be within 20 to 25 feet of windows to maximize light exposure.
“Light is the most important synchronizing agent for the brain and body,” said Ivy Cheung, co-lead author at Northwestern, in a news release. “Proper synchronization of your internal biological rhythms with the earth’s daily rotation has been shown to be essential for health.”
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