If you find that you have to squint your eyes as soon as you flip on the office lights—and you become increasingly sleepy as the workday goes on—you’re not alone. A majority of office dwellers suffer under unpleasant fluorescent lighting, and we think it’s time for a change. And guess what? So does science!
Mirjam Muench, research associate in the Solar Energy and Building Physics Laboratory at ´Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, conducted research on two separate groups of people to determine if lighting had an effect on productivity at work. One group spent multiple workdays in daylight, and the other group spent the same amount of time working in artificial light. Her study concluded that those participants who worked in the artificial light experienced more dramatic feelings of sleepiness at the end of the day.
In fact, scientists have theorized for years that artificial light actually disrupts our bodies’ circadian rhythms, which causes us to fall out of sync with the sun. The fix? More natural light. Here are three easy ways to get it during your workday:
1. Get outside.
Taking frequent breaks outdoors increases alertness and brightens your day naturally, providing the added perks of exercise and vitamin D from the sun. And why not suggest that your next office meeting be a walk-and-talk, instead of in that dreary conference room?
2. Light your way.
If you have your own office, simply turn off the overhead lighting and use an inexpensive task lamp or two that fits a full-spectrum or natural-spectrum light bulb. If you sit in a cubicle or share office space with others, ask your coworkers if they agree with you that the fluorescent lighting is too harsh. They obviously will, so as a group you can talk to your boss and/or building manager about swapping out those artificial lights with healthier, natural-spectrum ones. If you have a hard time convincing anyone about the harmful effects of artificial light, remember: You have science on your side!
3. Open those windows.
If you’re lucky enough to have windows in your office, pull up those blinds and let the day’s natural light work its magic. Even the littlest bit of natural light will brighten your day.
We found these affordable natural-spectrum lamps online: