Natural Light and Alertness: How Skylights Increase Energy Levels

Natural Light and Alertness
As well as improving productivity, natural light has a positive effect on alertness, energy and quality of life.

Natural light has a wide range of benefits, not just at home but also in the workplace and other commercial settings. We’ve written previously about the value of natural light for productivity – one of just several advantages it has over artificial lighting.

People that work in environments lit by natural sunlight tend to outperform their counterparts in artificially lit environments, producing a greater level of output in the same amount of time and making fewer errors.

They’re also less likely to suffer from common illnesses and experience a range of negative health effects that can result in an increased level of time spent out of the workplace or working below optimum efficiency.

But the benefits of natural light go far beyond these advantages. As well as having a huge positive effect on productivity and health, natural light also makes people feel more energized, focused and attentive during the day.

This can have huge benefits not just in the workplace, where alertness is often the key to preventing accidents and improving productive output, but after work ends as well, from time spent at home to overall quality of life.

In this blog post, we’ll look at the effects of natural light on energy levels and focus to help you understand how making your office brighter and greener could have a huge positive effect not just on productivity, but also on employee quality of life.

Exposure to natural light at work improves sleep quality

Have you ever woken up without feeling rested? Sleep quality can vary dramatically based on a range of factors, including the food and drinks that you consume during the day, your sleep environment and the environment you work in.

Over the last decade, scientists have become more aware of the effects that natural light can have on sleep patterns. Exposure to natural light during the day creates a clear circadian rhythm – a daytime/nighttime biological sleep pattern.

Limited exposure to natural light during the day, as well as extensive exposure to artificial light during the evening, can result in a less clearly defined rhythm that’s likely to result in sleep difficulties and a reduced quality of sleep.

In turn, this can lead to reduced alertness and energy levels during the daytime for many people. These limited energy levels can affect everything from productivity in the workplace to ambition, mental clarity and personal happiness.

According to research from Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, people that worked in offices with large windows slept for 46 minutes extra every night and received 173% more white light during the day.

This improvement in energy translates into increased workplace output

Natural daylighting is incredibly affordable. In fact, prior to the large-scale decline in electricity prices in the late 1950s, the vast majority of workplaces depended on the sun as their light source not for its health benefits, but for its low cost.

The improvement in sleep quality and energy levels offered by natural lighting leads to a significant improvement in workplace output and productivity – one that comes at an insignificant cost for businesses that invest in daylighting.

In addition to improving productive output, the increase in alertness and energy of naturally lit environments makes workplaces safer. Increase alertness means fewer accidents and a reduced risk of injuries or errors occurring in the workplace.

This contributes not just to a higher level of output, but a higher quality level and an increase in the safety level of your workplace – one that reduces costs and results in a decline in the likelihood of injuries or accidents occurring.

In large workplaces, natural lighting often requires complementary artificial lighting in order to completely illuminate a space. This is fine, as the benefits of natural light occur even in environments with mixed light sources.

Could your business benefit from using natural daylighting?

Daylighting has a huge range of benefits, although most business owners simply are not aware of many of them. While the majority of people are aware of the financial and environmental benefits of daylight, few understand its effect on productivity.

From making your workplace more efficient and productive to massively increasing the quality of life your employees experience, investing in daylighting has a massive range of advantages for your business and its staff.

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