August 8, 2014
Science Daily/Northwestern University
Office workers with more natural light exposure at the office had longer sleep duration, better sleep quality, more physical activity and better quality of life compared to office workers with less light exposure in the workplace, a study shows. "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 the senior study author.
Employees with windows in the workplace received 173 percent more white light exposure during work hours and slept an average of 46 minutes more per night than employees who did not have the natural light exposure in the workplace. There also was a trend for workers in offices with windows to have more physical activity than those without windows.
Workers without windows reported poorer scores than their counterparts on quality of life measures related to physical problems and vitality, as well as poorer outcomes on measures of overall sleep quality and sleep disturbances.
"Light is the most important synchronizing agent for the brain and body," said Ivy Cheung, co-lead author and Ph.D. candidate in neuroscience in Zee's lab at Northwestern. "Proper synchronization of your internal biological rhythms with the earth's daily rotation has been shown to be essential for health." Also, people who get more light during the day may sleep better at night, which can also help improve health, Zee noted.