Many of us have just come back to work from a well-deserved summer vacation. We have probably spent many hours outdoors and enjoyed the sun. When the autumn now is coming and, at least in the northern Europe, the days get shorter and we spend a lot of time indoors at work or school, we decrease the exposure of natural light enormously. How could this affect us and what should we think about?
The exposure of daylight has a great impact on our biological clock. During vacation period you feel great and happy when you probably spend a lot of time outside, doing some exercise in the normal daily activities and sleep as much as you want no matter when you go to bed. When you go back to work, spending time indoors – the most of us spend 90% of our time awake indoors – it is not unusual that you do not feel as alert as previous. Perhaps you still exercise, but the alertness is different and your sleep patterns have changed. Perhaps you do not have as good access to daylight at work as you would like to have. Of course the change in alertness could depend on several different things, but as research shows the lack of natural light could be a cause that our bodies are not in balance.
Dr Rangan Chatterjee tells in his book The 4 Pillar Plan: How to Relax, Eat, Move and Sleep Your Way to a Longer, Healthier Life an interesting story about a retired bus driver. He had after retirement during several years felt very tired due to bad sleep. His bed procedures were good; he turned off the television one hour before sleep and he laid in bed reading a book in diffused light before sleep. When he described his everyday life more explicit it were detected that he spent the most of his day indoors in his garage with his model railway. Even if he during his working life had spent the most part of the day driving a bus, the bus had large windows exposing him to natural light. He was ordinated by his doctor to walk every day 30 minutes in the morning to buy the newspaper. After two weeks he said that his sleep was much better, he fell to sleep faster and slept better. He felt better.
The access to natural light is important to us. Authorities, for example the Swedish Work Environment Authority have in a knowledge compilation (2019:2) stated that daylight affects among others the circadian rhythm, sleep, alertness and mood. These findings are not news in themselves, but the importance of this is now in focus and becomes even more relevant from the perspective that people spend a large part of the day indoors while there is a constant densification of the city, with surface-efficient buildings such as office landscapes, where the access to daylight could be a shortcoming. Also news channels, as TV4 in Sweden, find this so important and interesting wanting to report of the same in a longer news feature. Different organizations for environment certification, as WELL Building Institute also rewards daylight in buildings in their certification programs.
We do not always need to start with the big changes. With just some small changes in our everyday life, we could make our life a little better.
Try to be outdoors for 20-30 minutes in the morning. It doesn’t need to be too radical changes. Here comes some tips for you:
– Drink your coffee or tea outdoors in the morning – despite season!
– Walk to the bus or train before catching it to work or take a short walk before taking the car to work.
– If your work is situated no more than 5 km from your home, cycle or walk!
– Cycle or walk with your children to their school or daycare. They are also spending a lot of time indoors.
Do not forget to inform your employer of the health benefits that exposure to daylight could give. Perhaps you could achieve that a health care policy allowing 20 minutes of walk during the first working hours and a working environment policy with for example good access to natural light will be carried out. Most employers would like to have satisfied and productive employees.
Enjoy your everyday life!
SUNLIGHT DEEP INTO BUILDINGS AND FAR AWAY FROM WINDOWS
With Parans’ solution you are able to create sunlight filled spaces in every building. Thin, flexible fiber optic cables lead the sunlight far from windows and deep into the building where the sunlight from windows cannot reach. As common as it is to have windows along the facade and that way lead the natural light inside, as common it could be to lead sunlight via a Parans system deep into the building – to every room, on every floor.
Want to know more about the value of the Parans system? Download our Light Guide.