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07 June 2013

Windows add to office workers' well-being

Paid vacation and health benefits are coveted job perks. Perhaps windows also belong on that list, new research suggests.

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Workers in offices with windows get more and better sleep at night, are more physically active and have a higher quality of life than those in windowless offices, a new study finds.

The study included 49 day-shift office employees, 22 in workplaces with windows and 27 in windowless workplaces. Those in offices with windows received 173% more white light exposure during work hours and slept an average of 46 minutes more a night than those in windowless offices.

Employees in offices with windows also tended to be more physically active, had better sleep quality and efficiency, fewer sleep disturbances, less daytime sleepiness, and higher quality-of-life scores.

Daylight and quality of work

"The extent to which daylight exposure impacts office workers is remarkable," study co-author Ivy Cheung, a doctoral candidate in the interdepartmental neuroscience program at Northwestern University in Chicago, said in an American Academy of Sleep Medicine news release.

The architectural design of offices should take into consideration how natural daylight exposure may contribute to employees' well-being, the researchers said.

"Day-shift office workers' quality of life and sleep may be improved via emphasis on light exposure and lighting levels in current offices, as well as in the design of future offices," Cheung said.

Although the study found an association between worker well-being and windowed workplaces, it didn't establish a cause-and-effect relationship. Also, data and conclusions presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

More information

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about sleep.

 
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