Here Comes The Sun: 5 Reasons to Get Sunlight into Your WorkspacePublié le 9 July 2020
It’s time to say goodbye to dark and dreary workspaces that don’t help anyone feel good or do their jobs well. With the large number of people now working from home, many have found the need to create home offices and workspaces in whatever area and configuration we have available. For those fortunate enough to have large windows in their homes, it’s important to get as much sunlight into your workspace as possible, and not just to enjoy the view. Sunlight and natural light have a range of benefits for physical, mental and emotional well-being, and for work performance. This is why natural lighting is one of the most popular features in modern offices, and we should work to make sure that this trend continues.
Here are 5 reasons to get sunlight into your workspace:
- You’ll see better
- You’ll improve your focus
- You’ll save money
- You’ll sleep longer
- You’ll be happier
You’ll See Better
Many of us have tried to increase the brightness on our computer screens, only to find that it is already at maximum. Instead of relying on the screen settings on our devices, it’s time to think about how the environment around us affects our eyesight. Maintaining our vision is very important to our overall health, and being healthy will help to reach our personal and professional goals. Work that requires constant use of screens can increase eye strain and cause painful symptoms, and the type of light in the surrounding workspace can exacerbate these effects.
In a study conducted by Cornell University, workers who worked near a window with sunlight or in an office with natural light experienced an 84% decrease in the frequency of eye strain, blurry sight, and headaches, all common vision problems associated with office work. By changing out harsh artificial lights for sunlight, natural light and alternatives created to mimic their effects, the result is that our eyes do not need to work as hard to see the work in front of us.
You’ll Improve Your Focus
Sometimes the most difficult part of work is actually just sitting down and doing the work itself. Trouble with focusing is a real problem facing the workplace, and it is most definitely not due to a simple lack of care on the part of workers. The modern world is filled with distractions, many of which are completely beyond our control. Employees can receive and send dozens of emails and work-related messages every single day, for instance, and each one of those dings, alerts and notifications is a distraction. Now as millions of people have transitioned to working from home, the total overlapping of personal and professional life has caused a lot of difficulty.
We all have responsibilities and people who depend on us with important needs that can arise without a moment’s notice, making it very hard to have dedicated work time. When it is possible for us to sit down and get to work in our home workspaces, we must do everything we can to help ourselves focus. A survey of office workers found that 70% stated that their performance and productivity levels improved with increased levels of natural light and sunlight. The fact that we work in front of the window does not mean that every distraction will instantly disappear, of course, but anything that can give us a boost when we are able to make the time to work will certainly help.
You’ll Save Money
Electricity costs money, and the prices keep going up. As one of the side effects of working from home, many people now find themselves using far more electricity, water, heat and other utilities than normal due to the fact that they are not out of the house for 8-10 hours each day. Given the increasing costs of hydro-electricity, it makes sense that people are looking for ways to reduce usage and be more energy-efficient. One of the most effective ways to save is also one of the most simple: turn off the lamp, sit by the window and let some sunlight into your workspace.
Using sunlight in your workspace means you simply don’t have to turn on artificial lights all day, reducing the amount of utilities being used in your home and lowering the costs. Even commercial properties are realizing the potential savings that occur when using natural light. Many modern office buildings are designed with large windows that let the sunlight into the workspace while being more energy-efficient. This lets them leave the familiar rows of humming fluorescent tube lights in the past, and embrace a workspace that is brighter and more energy-efficient. Instead of constructing totally artificial and sterile work environments, the modern workspace should be designed to create a more natural, welcoming and energy-efficient environment.
You’ll Sleep Longer
Do you ever wonder why the vast majority of people sleep at night and wake during the day? It goes beyond just simple habits or culture norms. We all have a sleep cycle, also known as a circadian rhythm, that sets our internal clocks and tells us when it’s time for sleep. Research indicates that the circadian rhythm is actually closely tied to sunlight, meaning we have evolved to feel tired when the sunsets and wake up when the light comes back. This makes sense, considering that artificial light has only existed for a tiny percentage of human history.
With artificial light, it actually tricks our minds and bodies into fighting against our natural circadian rhythm. We spend all day sitting in artificial light, and then spend the evening and night time in the same light, which doesn’t let our bodies properly adjust to the different times of day. Studies have shown the people who work in natural light, either from sunlight or lights that replicate it, experience improved sleep, sleeping for longer periods of time and waking up feeling more rested. This is because the sunlight works with our natural circadian rhythms instead of working against it. By experiencing more sunlight during the day, our bodies know that the absence of it during the night means it’s time for sleep. Having enough sunlight in your workspace will lead to improved sleep, which will help us be more rested and perform at our best during the day.
You’ll Be Happier
The best reason to let as much sunlight into your workspace as possible is that it will help you be happier. Sunlight has real physical health benefits, primarily because of the good amount of vitamin D that it provides. There is a significant amount of research that shows that people who get more sunlight experience a range of physical health benefits including lower blood pressure, stronger bones and an improved immune system which contributes to overall positive well-being. Just remember to wear sunscreen when you’ll be outside for long periods of time.
The health benefits are not only physical, and there is a positive impact on our emotional and mental well-being that comes with increased amounts of sunlight. Although the research is not definitive, this is possibly linked to increased levels of vitamin D and serotonin in the brain, with studies showing that people had higher levels of serotonin on sunny days.
For a specific example, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects 6%-14% of people in the northern hemisphere, and it is thought that one of the causes is the lower level of sunlight in the winter months. People affected with SAD experience increased strain on their mental and emotional health, and it has been shown that increased time in sunlight and natural light can help alleviate these symptoms.
To be clear, sunlight is not a cure-all for mental health conditions, and anyone experiencing unusual changes in their mental and emotional well-being should always seek professional support.
It’s more important than ever that employees have the tools, resources and support to improve and maintain their physical, mental and emotional health. Getting more natural light and sunlight in the workspace, whether at home or in commercial offices, plays a large role in helping workers maintain their overall well-being. For those now working from home and looking to feel and work better, the key may just be letting a bit of sunlight into the workspace.
Please note: This article is not meant to be medical advice. For any and all physical, mental and emotional health issues please always contact a qualified healthcare professional.