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Study: More windows for workers means better well-being

More exposure to daylight can lead to more exercise, better sleep

DETROIT – A new study show that workers who have office with windows get more (and better) sleep at night, exercise more often and have a quality of life higher than workers in windowless offices.

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 percent 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.

"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.