HEALTHY LIVING
06/12/2013 08:14 am ET Updated Jun 13, 2013

Windows In The Workplace Linked With Better Sleep

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Is your office sun-drenched, or are you tucked away in a shadowy cubicle? According to a small new study, both of these could affect how you sleep at night.

The research, presented at the annual SLEEP 2013 meeting, shows an association between daylight exposure at work -- meaning, sunlight that streams in through the windows -- and sleep quality at night, as well as physical quality of life.

The study included 49 office workers who worked the day shift. Of those people, 27 worked in an office without windows, and 22 worked in an office with windows. Researchers gathered information on quality of life and quality of sleep from all the study participants, and then used actigraphy to measure activity, sleep and light exposure in a smaller subgroup of participants.

They found an association between receiving more sunlight in the office during the day, and sleeping more at night. Particularly, people who had windows in their offices got 173 percent more white light exposure than the people without windows in their offices. And people with office windows also slept 46 minutes longer each night, compared with their windowless peers.

"Day-shift office workers' quality of life and sleep may be improved via emphasis on light exposure and lighting levels in current offices as well as in the design of future offices," study researcher Ivy Cheung, a doctoral candidate at Northwestern University, said in a statement.

Office workers may not be the only ones to benefit from sunlight -- a past study in the Journal of Sleep Research showed that natural light exposure could help babies sleep longer -- and more quietly -- through the night, Parenting reported.

However, not all light is the same -- in a recent perspective published in Nature, sleep medicine professor Dr. Charles A. Czeisler, of Harvard Medical School, explained that electric light can negatively impact natural sleep cycles by activating arousing neurons and stopping sleep-promoting neurons.

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