Natural Light At Workplace Benefits Health

By on August 11, 2014

According to a new study, natural light exposure to employees at workplace helps in improving sleep duration, sleep quality, physical activity, and overall quality of life when compared to employees who are exposed to lesser light at workplace.

Natural Light At Workplace Benefits HealthThis study was conducted by Medicine and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. And the study was published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

Phyllis Zee, M.D. is the senior author of the study, who is a Northwestern Medicine neurologist and sleep specialist.

Author of this study said that their study highlights the importance of natural light exposure to employees at workplace, and priority architectural designs of office environments that should place exposure of natural light for workers.

In workplace with windows, employees received 173% more exposure to white light during working hours, and even slept for 46 minutes more on average when compared to employees were not exposed to natural light at workplace.

And there was even more physical activity observed in employees working in workplace with windows when compared to employees working in workplace without windows.

Employees who worked in workplace without windows reported poorer score when compared to employees working in workplace with windows with respect to quality of life measures like physical problems, energy, and also had poorer overall sleep quality and increased sleep disturbances.

Phyllis Zee said that there is increasing evidence that natural light exposure particularly during morning hours is beneficial to overall health – it improves mood, alertness and body metabolism.

Phyllis Zee also said that workers are at risk as they are typically working indoors mostly without any access to natural light and not even to artificial bright light throughout the day. Phyllis Zee added that their study confirms that exposure to natural light during daytime shows powerful impact on health.

Mohamed Boubekri is co-lead author of this study, who is an associate professor of architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He said that Architects while designing offices should be aware of importance of natural light not only as a potential energy saver, but also as a term that affects the health of the occupants.

Mohamed Boubekri noted that a simple design solution will help in penetration of natural light into office building. While designing workstations it should be made sure that they should be within in 20 to 25 feet of the peripheral walls with windows. This is because natural light coming from windows vanishes after 20 to 25 feet from the windows.

For this study, 49 day-shift workers were included by the researchers. 27 of them were working in windowless workplaces and remaining 22 were working in windowed workplace.

Health related quality of life and quality of sleep of these 49 workers were measured from self-reported form, and with the help of Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) quality of sleep was evaluated.

And with actigraphy, exposure of light, physical activity and sleep was measured in a representative subset of 21 participants, which included 10 workers from windowless workplace group and 11 workers from windowed workplace group.

Actigraphy is a small device worn on wrist, which is used to measure exposure of light, physical activity and sleep.

Ivy Cheung is another co-lead author, who is Ph.D. candidate in neuroscience in Zee’s lab at Northwestern. Ivy Cheung said that light plays an important agent for synchronizing of brain and body. Ivy Cheung also said that proper synchronization of body’s biological clock with earth’s daily rotation is necessary for better health.

Zee noted that people who get more exposure to light during daytime will have better sleep during nighttime, and it also helps in improving health.

Kathryn Reid from Northwestern and Chia Hui-Wang from the University of Illinois are the other authors of this study.