Shedding light on human energy: Benefits of natural light in the workplace

These images show the difference the temperature of light can make in a workspace or at home. On the left is a light source that has a color temperature that produces light that has a blue tint. The photo on the right is a warmer temperature light source that adds more yellow or warm light to a room.

In a technology-driven world, it’s easy to get lost on our devices as we catch up on social media, prepare a presentation or binge-watch our favorite television shows.

All of the devices we love, and can’t seem to live without, require energy to work. As we charge our devices, we need to also charge ourselves. By harnessing the power of human energy, we can increase health, productivity and happiness.

According to a 2017 report by Harvard School of Public Health, people spend about 90 percent of their day inside — often away from windows and nature.

When we shutter ourselves inside all day, bathed by artificial light, this can lead to sleep disorders and other health issues.

The blue-tinted light emitted by the sun regulates the body’s circadian rhythm, also known as its sleep-wake cycle. When the sun goes down at night, our bodies know it’s time to start producing melatonin, the hormone that contributes to sleepiness.

When the sun rises in the morning, our bodies know it’s time to stop producing melatonin.

To help with this process, consider using soft-white lightbulbs to help simulate daylight rather than the cool-white color.

Daylight exposure can help to improve sleep duration, mood and lower blood pressure according to research conducted by the University of Oregon. While increased natural light elevates human energy, a lack of it is associated with physiological, sleep and depressive symptoms.

How to increase natural light during your day

  • Use lighter, brighter wall paint or coverings. Or use glass or reflective material on your wall space if you are not able to change paint color.
  • Open the blinds.
  • Use shiny surfaces to your advantage. These can bounce light in a room with limited light.
  • For those who work in a space without window light or work an overnight shift, you can take a walk prior to or after your shift during daylight hours. Be sure to get outside on your days off.