Lighting Research Finds Morning Light Lowers Stress At Work

07/20/2017 |

The study included 109 participants at five office buildings.

A new study from the Lighting Research Center (LRC) finds that to reduce stress at work, maybe you just need a little more light.

The research center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute found that office workers who receive a big dose of circadian-effective light in the morning, from either electric lighting or daylight, experience better sleep and lower levels of depression and stress, than those who spend their mornings in dim or low light levels.

The LRC research team, led by Dr. Mariana Figueiro, professor and director of the LRC’s Light and Health program, investigated the connection between circadian stimulus (CS), a measure of light’s impact on the circadian system, and sleep, depression, and stress in office workers.

“Our study shows that exposure to high CS during the day, particularly in the morning, is associated with better overall sleep quality and mood scores than exposure to low CS,” said Figueiro. “The present results are a first step toward promoting the adoption of new, more meaningful metrics for field research, providing new ways to measure and quantify circadian-effective light.”

Participants who received high amounts of light in the morning reported lower levels of stress than those receiving low light, and this finding was consistent during both summer and winter.

“We are supporting this type of research so we can learn more about the connections between lighting and health,” said Bryan Steverson with GSA. “The data from this research will help support our efforts in developing new lighting practices that can optimize health benefits for federal employees working in our federal buildings.”

The present study is the first to measure personal circadian light exposure in office workers using a device calibrated to measure circadian-effective light. It is also the first to directly relate circadian-effective light measures to mood, stress, and sleep outcomes.

Results of the study were published in the June issue of Sleep Health, the journal of the National Sleep Foundation, in an article titled, “The impact of daytime light exposures on sleep and mood in office workers”—and were featured in this Reuters news story.

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