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Depressed? Trouble Sleeping? You May Need More Light

Posted on August 25 2014

Spending time in the great outdoors has many associated health benefits, like getting natural vitamin D from sunlight, breathing in fresher air (depending on where you live and the level of air pollution), and getting exercise. Great news for those with severe allergies and those who spend a majority of their time stuck in an office at work, a new study published in the June issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine revealed that office workers and nurses who are exposed to more light during the day (such as from through windows) were able to sleep better, more motivated to participate in physical activities, and had an overall better quality of life than those with little or no light exposure during the day. Researchers from Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign teamed up to conduct a study looking at the correlation between an individual’s level of light exposure and the effects it has on their sleeping patterns (length and quality)and their physical activity. The study, which looked at 49 office workers (22 of which had windows near their desks and 27 of which worked in offices that had no windows) found that employees who worked in offices with windows experienced a higher quality of sleep and better moods, as well as being more alert and energetic, having better metabolisms, and reporting an overall better quality of life. According to this study, those who have troubles sleeping would experience significant benefits from being exposed to more light throughout the day. Researchers found that those who worked in offices with windows were exposed to 173% more white light during work hours and got an average of 46 more minutes of sleep per light. Those who worked near windows also reported experiencing an overall better quality of sleep with fewer disturbances throughout the night, and better sleep often leads to improved overall health. “Workers are a group at risk because they are typically indoors often without access to natural or even artificial bright light for the entire day,” explained senior study author Phyllis Zee, M.D., a Northwestern Medicine neurologist and sleep specialist. Further validating the findings of many other previous studies, the results of this study have reconfirmed the numerous claims that exposure to light throughout the day has significant benefits for our overall health and well-being. As such, study authors urge architects to incorporate more windows into their building designs. Although it’s nice to have windows with natural light in the workplace, there is no need for those without windows to quit their jobs because they don’t have a window by their desk. Using therapeutic lamps, which artificially provide therapeutic bright light, is another viable alternative for those who are stuck in offices without windows. Lamps like the DayLight SunLite Lamp and the DayLight Sky Light Therapeutic Lamp are specially designed to provide safe doses of bright white therapeutic light, which has been clinically proven to be effective for the treatment of a variety of mild to moderate disorders resulting from light deficiencies. These therapeutic lamps use special bulbs to provide users with the recommended 10,000 LUX of white light for optimal therapeutic benefits.  The bottom line is, whether you’re feeling a little down and depressed, experiencing a lack of energy and productivity, or you are having troubles sleeping, increasing your level of light exposure (either through a window or by using a therapeutic lamp) promotes many health benefits and an overall improved quality of life.   Sources: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/videos/news/Light_Office_082214-1.html http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2014/08/natural-light-in-the-office-boosts-health.html

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