Northwestern University Study Unlocks a Secret To Boost Office Worker’s Health

In a recent study conducted by Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, it was found that lighting design can improve office worker’s health. The study, which was published in Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine contains some surprising results.

The study shows that office workers exposed to more natural light experience a variety of health benefits both in and outside of the office, such as:

  • better sleep quality
  • more physical activity
  • lower blood pressure
  • Reported a better quality of life

Let’s take a minute to examine the study.

The Subjects

The study authors looked into several office environments and monitored light levels throughout the workplace. The study included 49 day-shift office workers — 22 in workplaces with windows and 27 in windowless workplaces.

The results of the study were surprising.

The Winners

Employees who work with in offices with windows received at least 173% more “white” light exposure than those working away from windows or employees working at night. It was found that these employees on average slept at least 46 minutes longer per night and enjoyed a better quality of life as a result.

Proper synchronization of your internal biological rhythms with the Earth’s daily rotation has been shown to be essential for health.

Ivy Cheung, doctoral candidate, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

The Others

Workers who did not have a window or ample natural light conditions reported lower survey responses for quality of life than their counterparts and scored lower in alertness, metabolism and a variety of mood-related questions.


There’s plenty of evidence to show workers who lack sleep tend to suffer from other problems that can hurt their performance, including slower decision-making, shorter attention spans, memory loss, and trouble learning.

FastCompany, 2014


Read more about natural light and weight loss

Natural Light & Weight Loss


It seems that light exposure is extremely important to normalizing our body’s activity and the way we sleep. Humans evolved under the sun, and our bodies have been fine-tuned over the ages to use that natural light for critical biological functions. Isn’t an office worker’s health a key component of their productivity?


Read more about natural light and sleep cycles

How fluorescent lighting is robbing us of sleep


As noted by Ivy Cheung, the co-lead author and Ph.D. candidate in neuroscience for the Phyllis Zee MD authored paper: “As employees are able to get more light through the day they can often get better sleep at night, which will in turn help them to improve their health.”

This research shows a direct link between natural light exposure and better quality of life for office workers.

No Windows? No Problem.

Not every office worker or teacher is lucky enough to have direct exposure to natural light. Those not in close proximity (20 feet) to windows can “manufacture” their own full-spectrum light.

NaturaLux full-spectrum light filters are an easy, economical way to increase the worker’s exposure to full-spectrum, or “white” light.

Other options include full-spectrum bulbs and expensive sun lamps.

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