Bored, can’t be bothered to exercise and always craving carbs? The LIGHTS in your home and office could be to blame
- A third of adults said they felt sluggish and lethargic all year round at work
- Nearly 60 per cent blamed a lack of good quality light in their office
- Around half said they struggled to stay alert and ate more food as a result
- Light is not just important for our sight – it also helps regulate our health
Do you find yourself feeling low and struggling to stay awake at your desk? Or lack the motivation to go to the gym?
It might not be your fault.
New research has found millions of us are victims of poor lighting – which can wreak havoc with our health, mood and job performance.
Light is not just important for our sight – it also helps regulate our body clock and many aspects of our health.
New research has found millions of us are victims of poor lighting in the workplace – which can cause sleeping problems and wreak havoc with our health and job performance
Exposure to bright light helps us to regulate our sleep, boosts our mood and even raises our productivity levels.
However most of us are severely 'light deprived' because levels of brightness in our homes and workplaces aren't high enough to help regulate our body clock.
In fact, less than five per cent of daylight filters into the average building, one British study suggested.
As a result, millions of us struggle to stay alert – and battle through the day feeling sluggish, disgruntled and unmotivated.
In fact the new research, by Innolux Bright Light Therapy, found instead of our home being a place of sanctity, the light quality is potentially damaging our lifestyles.
For example, it could affect how healthy our food choices are and whether we are motivated enough to go to the gym.
When asked about the impact of dim or poor lighting at home and/or at work:
- 69 per cent of respondents said it affected their energy level
- 64 per cent said it worsened their mood
- 62 per cent saw a drop in motivation
- 55 per cent suffered disrupted sleep
- 50 per cent reported struggling to stay alert
- 52 per cent said it led to them eating more food, particularly carbs and sugary snacks
- 32 per cent felt sluggish
- 31 per cent said it affected their work output
But the research suggests an environment with bright natural light not only helps us stay motivated, it also can also protect our health.
Nearly 60 per cent of 1,000 British adults said they felt sluggish and lethargic all year round at work. While nearly a third said it affected their work output as a result
The survey found 44 per cent of people felt more energised after using bright light therapy or being in natural sunlight which gave them the inclination to exercise after work and also eat more healthily .
For example, many people snack on carbohydrate-containing foods in an unconscious effort to boost their mood, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found.
Indeed, carb cravers reported being less depressed just 20 minutes after a snack.
That's because carbohydrates help the body make the 'feel-good' hormone serotonin.
Meanwhile researchers at the Sleep Disorders Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital found light can also affect our metabolism and how efficiently our bodies use food.
Lighting can also hugely affect the quality of our sleep. For example, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found employees with windows in their offices got 46 minutes more shut-eye per night than their colleagues starved of daylight.
More than half of respondents said the poor lighting at work which made them sluggish led to them eating more food, particularly carbs and sugary snacks
And a lack of sleep has a knock-on effect on brain function.
What's more, of the 1,000 people surveyed around the UK, a third said they felt sluggish and lethargic all year round at work.
And nearly 60 per cent of those questioned blamed either a lack of good quality light in the office or not enough exposure to daylight.
So what can we do?
Experts are increasingly recommending the use of bright light therapy – i.e. a desktop light box such as those used for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Light therapy involves sitting or working near a light therapy device that emits bright light.
This mimics natural outdoor light, compensating for lack of it in e.g. a dimly-lit office.
Bright light devices work by delivering daylight or light of specific wavelengths to the back of the eye (retina) to help keep the circadian and other rhythms relating to the body clock stable.
Experts are increasingly recommending the use of bright light therapy – which involves sitting or working near a device that emits bright light which mimics that found outside
They are most effective between 6 and 10am – when we are naturally supposed to be exposed to daylight.
However 50 per cent of people surveyed had never heard of it as a treatment – and a further 25 per cent were unsure what it entailed.
HOW NOT ENOUGH SLEEP COULD KILL YOU
People who sleep for less than seven hours or more than nine hours a night could be at risk of heart problems, experts warned last month.
Getting too little or too much sleep raises the risk of obesity, type two diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and clogged arteries, a major review of evidence concluded.
In turn these factors drive up the chance of having a heart attack or stroke.
The American Heart Association published a comprehensive 'scientific statement' highlighting the links between poor sleep and cardiovascular health.
They said emerging evidence suggests that sleep affects the metabolism and hormone balance of the body - affecting cholesterol, insulin, blood pressure and inflammation.
Bright light therapy is best known for treating seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and other conditions such as jet lag, sleep disorders, adjusting to a night-time work schedule, dementia and types of depression that don't occur seasonally.
The amount of light is measured in lux, the international unit of illuminance.
One lux corresponds to the volume of light produced by one candle measured one metre away. On a normal summer's day, the volume of sunlight is around 50,000-100,000 lux outdoors.
In our home and offices, the volume of light is just 50-500 lux.
And by November, the illuminance can drop to 500 lux outdoors and around 100 lux indoors - 1,000 times less than the volume of natural light on an average summer day.
Chireal Shallow, independent psychologist and expert on body clocks and sleep, said: 'There are now a host of products on the market that can expose us to the bright light our bodies so desperately need to function properly.
'And if you're time pushed, there are devices that can give you a sufficient hit in as little as 15 minutes.
'There are also products available – one good brand is Innolux - that mean you don't need to look at the light directly, so you can carry on with everyday activities such as reading, eating.'
Most watched News videos
- Moment furious motorist pulls out HAND GUN during road rage
- Adorable twin sisters tell dad off in hilarious hunger rant
- Dog is stunned to find her Gumby chew toy is REAL
- Shocking moment evil cat makes toddler trip with furry paw
- Shocking moment Kumbuka tries to smash glass at London Zoo
- Is this the creepy moment the corpse of a girl OPENS her eyes?
- Heart-stopping footage captures attempt to avoid horror crash
- Chimpanzee befriends an adorable kitten in Russian zoo
- Terrified passengers panic, scream & push their way off death plane
- Hilarious moment man sings his McDonald's order and they sing back
- 'NO CHRIS!' moment Chris Hansen recognized by sexual predator
- Emotional moment bridegroom asks step-daughter to be child for life