Sorry, not great news if you work in an office without windows…a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, investigated daytime light exposure; sleep quality and health-related quality of life in employees who worked in windowless offices compared with those who worked in offices with natural daylight.
Those workers in windowless offices reported poorer sleep quality, greater day-to-day limitations due to physical problems and reduced vitality. The windowless workers not only had reduced light exposure during the day but also less total time asleep at night – approximately 45 minutes less.
Light has a powerful influence on the regulation of circadian rhythms in our body, and in particular the sleep-wake cycle. The light levels we’re exposed to during the day are linked to mood, productivity, and performance. This study shows how our working environment can affect us not just while we’re at work but even when we’re sleeping. Hopefully, employers will start looking at the design of workplaces to help their employees’ physical and mental well-being.
Light tells the brain it is time to wake up. That's probably obvious to anyone who has had to turn on a light in the middle of the night and then has had trouble getting back to sleep. What may not be so obvious is that exposure to light at other times, particularly in the early morning, can actually help you sleep at night. How does morning light improve sleep? The light helps to regulate your biological clock and keep it on track. This internal clock is located in the brain and keeps time not all that much differently from your wristwatch. There does, however, appear to be a kind of forward drift built into the brain. By staying up later and, more importantly, getting up later, you enforce that drift, which means you may find you have trouble getting to sleep and waking up when you need to.
So, lesson learned? Always take time to get natural sunlight. During your lunch break, walk to your favorite sandwich shop, open your office windows, stand by your car drinking a water.
Take time to better your health. Even more, take time to better your quality of sleep!