Are you pooped out more often than not? Too tired to do anything after work? It’s not you, it’s your dark, dingy office.
According to a new study at Northwestern University, people who are exposed to more daylight at work tend to have more energy, greater focus and better sleep at night. Those who had the luxury of an office with a view soaked up more natural light than their counterparts in windowless offices.
The reason is our circadian clocks, the internal timekeepers that keep us going, and tell us when to sleep and when to rise. The energy that natural daylight gives you while you’re hunched over your computer at work lasts all day long, and into the night.
But what if you’re stuck in a cubicle? Does it mean you will forever wilt like a shaded flower?
Not if you pay attention to your circadian clock and understand the important role that daylight plays in your life. For one thing, you should plan an early morning walk. This not only wakes up your muscles, it bathes you in valuable natural light that energizes you long after your walk is over.
Experts also recommend a “daylight” lamp that simulates natural light and can help regulate your inner clock. Whether you man up to that corner office with the bay windows, get your daylight before work and during your lunch break, or you invest in daylight-simulating light bulbs, the benefits of exposure to natural light are astonishing.
In a 2013 study published in the Netherlands, people who were exposed to daylight in their offices reported feeling more energy and less drowsiness – even when they didn’t get adequate sleep the night before!
Another study of daylight’s effect on office workers at a Turkish hospital found that nurses who were exposed to three or more hours of daylight per shift were much better off than nurses who were confined to artificial lighting all day. The former group felt less stress at work, performed their duties more enthusiastically, and actually liked their jobs more.
The researchers determined that the energizing effects of natural light were felt in as little as 10 minutes. That means you should try and spend your lunch break outdoors, if not your morning and afternoon breaks as well. Take a quick walk to the coffee shop on the corner, or at least spend as much of your break time outdoors as you can, even if it’s just a courtyard or entranceway outside your office building.
Always consult your physician or other health care professional before taking any medical advice
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