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Office Lighting May Be Affecting Your Health

By Chris Brown

According to 2019 labor statistics, the average employed American spends 7.89 hours per weekday at their work. While the health risks of long office hours is well known, lighting can be a missed opportunity to improve overall office health. Common lighting problems lead to many negative office side effects and a few minor updates can dramatically increase well-being at work.

Common Office Lighting Side-Effects

Office lighting issues may be the secret culprits behind many modern workspace hazards.

  • Eye strain - Low illumination can cause worsened eye strain, blurred vision, and headaches by fatiguing eye muscles over time.
  • Lowered productivity - Research has found a link between low lighting and decreased productivity. This could result from low light's mood effects or its fatiguing result.
  • Vitamin D deficiency - Vitamin D serves several important bodily functions such as calcium absorption, bone growth, mood regulation, and immune system support. Additionally, high Vitamin D reduces prevalence of cancer, heart disease, depression, and diabetes. Due to the hours spend in artificial lighting, Vitamin D deficiency is common in modern American workers.
  • Mood effects - The mood effects of long office hours in dim lighting are linked directly with low Vitamin D and burnout. These effects multiply when stressful work combines with few breaks.
  • Circadian rhythm and sleep problems - Because the body utilizes light to regulate its sleep cycle, artificial light can throw off people's circadian rhythm. This makes it both hard to fall asleep and provides less recuperative sleep when you do.

Improve Your Office Lighting

Whether in a home or office building, simple lighting changes can transform your workspace into a healthier environment.

  • Measure light - You can find the exact illumination of your workspace by using a light meter to measure desk light levels (between 500 and 1,000 lumens is considered adequate lighting). However, subpar lighting can be determined without measurements if you squint, get headaches, or have shadows over your desk. Low light can be solved by exposing natural light (opening up windows), adding light sources (like a lamp), or replacing the current bulbs with higher lumen ones.
  • Reduce glare from reflected light - Screen glare can be as bad for eye strain as low light. Turning off your computer and see if there is anything reflected in the black screen can be a test. If so, correct by covering the glare or changing the orientation of your computer.
  • Take walks outside or work in the sun - Taking a break and walking is good for your health by itself. Walking outside though, or working there if possible, allows the absorption of mood-boosting Vitamin D.
  • Use energy efficient bulbs - Energy efficient bulbs not only will save you money, but are often brighter than traditional bulbs with less energy.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Knoxville, Tenn.

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