Remember when you were a kid, and whenever you started to get all whiney and moody, your mom would tell you to go outside and get some fresh air and sunshine? Well, this may come as no surprise, but your mom knew what was up back then (and she probably does now, too). If you're feeling a little cooped up, bummed out, and low-energy, the results of a new survey suggest that the health benefits of natural light might be just the thing to turn your day around. It's a simple thing, sure, but apparently, it really can make all the difference in your mood.
Harvard Business Review (HBR) reports that the survey, which was done by the HR advisory firm Future Workplace, polled over 1,600 North American workers about what they look for in an ideal work environment, and while plenty of people mentioned things like on-site childcare services, fitness centers, and cafeterias, the magazine says the top perk that workers really want is more "access to natural light and views of the outdoors." And if the natural views and sunlight are missing? Well, employees apparently aren't so happy with that. According to HBR, a whopping 47 percent of survey respondents said "they feel tired or very tired" because of how little natural light they get during the day, and 43 percent reported "feeling gloomy" because of it. I mean, going to work every single day in a cubicle completely devoid of natural light is, understandably, a little bit of a bummer, so I totally see where these people are coming from.
Plus, there's a pretty decent amount of additional evidence out there that sheds light on the human need for exposure to natural light and how it can affect your well-being when you don't have that exposure. As HBR reports, research from Cornell University also supports the benefits of getting natural light each day. In that study, Cornell University professor Dr. Alan Hedge surveyed hundreds of office workers — some of whom worked in buildings with more access to natural light, while others worked in more dimly lit environments — about their work satisfaction, health, and well-being. They found that "reports of eyestrain, headaches, lighting quality satisfaction, window glass lighting quality, and alertness" were all significantly better for workers who had more exposure to natural light.
So why, exactly, is natural light so good for you, and why does it affect people so much when they aren't exposed to it? And, perhaps more importantly, how can you go about getting more exposure to natural light if you don't have much control over your low-key bleak work environment?
Well, according to experts, you simply must make the time for it — office windows or not. "One of the most important reasons to get natural light via sunlight is that sun exposure on the skin helps the body make a natural form of vitamin D," Dr. Chirag Shah, a board-certified emergency physician and co-founder of Accesa Labs, tells Elite Daily over email. "Vitamin D is important for a number of metabolic processes and can influence the health of your bones and muscles."
If you're stuck in a windowless cubicle for most of your work day, Dr. Shah recommends that you make time to take a walk outside at least once a day, even if it's only for 15 minutes.
Additionally, Martin Reed, founder of Insomnia Coach, points out that natural light is extremely important for your body’s natural sleep/wake cycle. "Without access to natural light, it is harder for the body to regulate the sleep/wake cycle," he tells Elite Daily over email. "This can make it harder to fall asleep at night and harder to wake up in the morning."
Natural light, specifically in the morning, tells the body that it’s time to be awake, Reed explains. What's more, it helps you get through the initial sleep inertia (aka that disoriented, drowsy feeling you get when you first wake up from a deep sleep) you might feel in the morning, and the light puts you on the right track for the rest of the day. "I suggest getting as much natural light exposure as possible, as soon as possible, after rising in the morning," Reed says. "You can do this by going for a morning walk or simply sitting near a bright window when eating breakfast."
So get out there y'all, because your mom was right: The fresh air, and the sun, will definitely do you some good.