Natural Workplace Lighting

Natural Workplace Lighting

Researchers at the Interdepartmental Neuroscience program at Northwestern University in Chicago, reported that the detrimental impact of working in a windowless environment is a universal phenomenon. A new study titled, "Impact of Workplace Daylight Exposure on Sleep, Physical Activity, and Quality of Life," concludes that there is a strong relationship between workplace daylight exposure and office workers' sleep, activity and quality of life.

Compared to workers in offices without windows, those 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. Workers without windows reported lower scores than their counterparts on quality of life measures related to physical problems and vitality. They also had poorer outcomes in measures of overall sleep quality, sleep efficiency, sleep disturbances and daytime dysfunction.

Circadian rhythms are biological, mental and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle and respond to light and darkness within an organism’s environment. Circadian rhythms are found in almost every living thing, including: human beings, animals, plants and even tiny microbes.

Circadian rhythms are produced by natural factors within the body, but they are mostly affected by signals from the environment. Light is the main cue influencing circadian rhythms. Exposure to light turns the genes that control an organism’s internal clocks "on" and "off." Circadian rhythms dictate: sleep-wake cycles, hormone release, body temperature and other important bodily functions.

Disruptions of circadian rhythms is directly linked to sleep disorders. Abnormal circadian rhythms have also been associated with obesity, diabetes, depression, bipolar disorder and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

The “master clock” that controls circadian rhythms consists of a group of nerve cells in the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, or SCN. Destruction of the SCN results in the complete absence of a regular sleep–wake cycle.

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