Conducted by researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Northwestern Medicine, a new study suggests that more light exposure for office workers on the job leads to better sleep quality, longer sleep duration, more physical activity and improves their overall quality of life.
Published in the June edition of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, the study included 49 day-shift office workers with 22 of them working in a space with windows and 27 in windowless space. Light exposure, activity and sleep were measured by actigraph, while sleep quality and health-related quality of life was measured in the form of a questionnaire and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI).
The workers with windows at their workplace received 173% more white light exposure during work hours and slept an average of 46 minutes more per night, compared to the workers who did not have the natural light exposure at work. It was also more common for workers in offices with windows to experience more physical activity than those without windows.
Workers without exposure to windows had poorer scores than their counterparts on quality of life forms associated to physical problems and energy, as well had lower sleep quality scores with more sleep disturbances.
“Light is the most important synchronizing agent for the brain and body,” says Ph.D. candidate at Northwestern Medicine and co-study author, Ivy Cheung. “Proper synchronization of your internal biological rhythms with the earth’s daily rotation has been shown to be essential for health.”
This isn’t the first time light is in the spotlight for its health benefits. It has also been proven to help dementia patients experience less agitation and sleep better.
Sleep experts suggest that we get light exposure as soon as we wake up and do our best to get as much as we can during to the day to keep on track with high-quality snooze. Opt for a desk that’s within a 20-25 feet distance from a window to see some improvements with your snooze!