Over a third of us struggle to get a good full night's sleep. So anything that helps our chances should be embraced and considered very carefully.
The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine is wholly devoted to addressing the problem of sleep disorders and has published the findings of a joint study by teams from the University of Illinois, Northwestern University in Chicago and the Hwa-Hsia Institute of Technology in Taiwan, who studied the effects of access to daylight during the working day.
Using a volunteer group of 49 office workers, they compared the sleeping patterns of those who worked in dark, windowless environments with those who had frequent access to daylight through windows.
The results showed that not only did the sunlit group have better quality and deeper sleep at night, but that they slept an average of forty-five minutes more than their troglodyte coleagues.
The physiology behind this effect is quite straighforward, office lighting, however bright and well designed, cannot match the brightness of sunlight which is, on a sunny day, twenty times brighter than the average ambience in a modern working environment.
The light is also of a very different quality. 'White' light is made from all the other colour wavelengths blending together (which is why we see rainbows when they are separated through the prism of raindrops) but is predominantly blue in shade (which is why the sky looks blue).
Artifical lighting, whether it is sodium, neon, halogyn etc., is predominantly at the yellow and red end of the colour spectrum and so has a different impact.
Our bodies are designed to take cues from our surroundings, including light, to regulate and manage its essential functions. Put simply, a bright day perks us up and a dark night shuts us down.
Sleep has such enormous importance in general health terms that the extra five hours or so a week that the study suggests might accrue from simply sitting by a window would make it well worth the effort.
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