Lack of Light = Lack of Sleep = Lack of Productivity
More often than not, many of us have trouble hitting the hay right way – possibly counting sheep to pass the time, reveling in monthly bills that are due momentarily, or agonizing over an impending deadline. Email notifications may be heard in the distance, or even by your bedside serving as a technological temptress, distracting you from slumber.
These stressors often keep us awake, further enabling the sleeplessness; and as well all know, the more you stress about falling asleep, the more likely you are to remain awake. “‘In the sleep world, stress is to sleep as yin is to yang — opposite forces that are forever linked,’ Chris Winter, M.D. told The Huffington Post in April. “Stress prevents sleep. Sleep deprivation increases stress and its consequences.” – 5 Things You Should Know About Sleep Health in the Workplace, Huffington Post. The subsequent early commute in the morning undoubtedly helped coin “America Runs on Dunkin” and a splash of caffeine keeps us moving until lunch.
But for so many of us worrywarts, surprisingly enough we can stop blaming ourselves or external circumstance for our lack of sleep and resulting struggle with productivity. A recent study has linked sleep deprivation to a lack of exposure to natural light in the workplace.
“Windowless workers received less daylight, were less physically active during the work day, and slept an average of 46 minutes less on work nights. Window workers slept more soundly than windowless workers on non-work nights – roughly 8.5 hours versus 6.5 hours.” – Workers in Windowless Offices Lose 46 Minutes of Sleep A Night, Fast Company. Specifically linked to our circadian rhythms, the study goes on to explain, “The source of the sleep troubles, in particular, might be disruption of their circadian rhythms – the internal clocks that operate best when exposed to sufficient daylight.” The more natural light we are exposed to, the more regulated our internal clocks are, and the more likely we are to fall asleep.
So what are the consequences of sleep deprived employees? As mentioned in Sleep, Performance, and Public Safety, Division of Sleep Medicine Harvard Medical School:
- “Scientific research is revealing, for example, how sleep loss, and even poor-quality sleep, can lead to an increase in errors at the workplace, decreased productivity, and accidents that cost both lives and resources.”
- “Sleep deprivation negatively impacts our mood, our ability to focus, and our ability to access higher-level cognitive functions.”
- “Concentration, working memory, mathematical capacity, and logical reasoning are all aspects of cognitive function compromised by sleep deprivation…the region of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex (PFC) is responsible for many higher-level cognitive functions and is particularly vulnerable to a lack of sleep. As a result, people who are sleep deprived will begin to show deficits in many tasks that require logical reasoning or complex thought.”
Additionally, spoken of in 5 Things You Should Know About Sleep Health in the Workplace, “Lack of sleep affects the prefrontal cortex of the brain, the area that controls innovation, self-control and creativity.”
So we become less creative, less innovative, and have difficulty completing tasks that call for reasoning, which directly affects our work performance. If we aren’t on top of our game we can’t perform our work to our fullest potential, possibly using up more sick days because our immune systems aren’t at their best, and our companies and bodies suffer as a result. “A recent Harvard study estimated that sleep deprivation costs American companies $63.2 billion a year in lost productivity.” – Relax! You’ll Be More Productive.
Lack of productivity isn’t just costly – keeping up with the electric bill in artificially lit buildings adds up, too. “Electric lighting in buildings consumes more than 15 percent of all electricity generated in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Energy Information Administration.” – Architectural Lighting: The Benefits of Natural Light.
Let There Be Light
More importantly, employee well-being and happiness can begin with a good night’s rest. By increasing natural light exposure circadian rhythms regulate, people sleep better, and have a better chance of achieving their fullest potential. “Overall, the findings suggest that the health benefits of exposure to daylight during the work day extend far beyond quitting time and even beyond the work week. In addition to more overall light exposure, these workers sleep better, seem more active, and have higher quality-of-life ratings than those who work in artificial light all day.” –Workers in Windowless Offices Lose 46 Minutes of Sleep a Night.
A suggested solution to promote light filtering from the exterior to the interior is with KI Movable Walls – such as Lightline. Versatile and adaptable, Lightline movable wall easily integrates with permanent construction, existing architecture and KI’s Genius Movable Wall. Lightline is the only fully unitized storefront solution that can be easily moved and reconfigured without waste and with minimal labor. Click to watch the video today, or contact us for more information and discover how we can help let the light in your workspace today: