How does sunlight affect productivity?
I’m sure I’m not the only one that sees the sunset and my productivity goes down with it. Following this prompt, does sunlight affect productivity and efficiency in work? If so, how does it have an effect on countries where the sun sets earlier? Where it is dark a few hours after school ends? Do productivity rates vary around the world because of this geographical difference?
Turning to my research, I began with finding the comparison between natural light as opposed to artificial. The results were, that when exposed to sunlight, a person receives various crucial nutrients such as vitamin D, melatonin, and serotonin. It has also been proven that it overall boosts someone’s mood as well as allows for them to be more alert. These nutrients are necessary for your life considering that serotonin is your main happy chemical and melatonin regulates your sleep schedule. Something as simple as a window desk can save you from excessive anxiety and stress.
Mirjam Muench, scientist, conducted a study with two groups, one with daylight and one with artificial light over the course of a couple of work days. This resulted in “People who had DL (Daylight) were significantly more alert at the beginning of the evening, and subjects who were exposed to AL (Artificial light) were significantly sleepier at the end of the evening.” In this study, it was also found that their cortisol levels dropped significantly under artificial light, an important factor to remember seeing that cortisol is an essential hormone which gives us our energy under stressful conditions.
From this research, it is proven that sunlight is essential in order to live a well-rounded life. With reduced levels of anxiety and alertness, a better quality of work will avail. It also shows how people exposed to direct sunlight reported higher job satisfaction and organizational commitment.
Whether this applies to a greater global scale is up to debate as not enough research has been done and no experiments have been conducted on it. Shown below is a graph on productivity by country and although there is a correlation between European countries, no conclusions can be reached in regards to sunlight and if that’s the only independent variable influencing these results.
How can we relate this information back to our daily lives? It’s simple really. Revising or studying for a test without natural sunlight can be very detrimental as harsh artificial lighting can damage your eyes. It is also when your cortisol levels are naturally lowest, meaning that you would be disrupting a consistent sleep schedule which your body works so hard to maintain.
It is difficult to determine how people should approach the working situation when the sun sets. At the end of the day, everyone has what they determine as their best working or studying “method”. In other cases, it is optimal to recommend people to optimise the sunlight hours for their most pressing issues (that require willpower and concentration) and little “to-dos” for nighttime.
In conclusion, it is evident that more sunlight and locating your working areas is crucial when it comes to optimised working. When your job or school life is what occupies a great part of your day, it is an aspect of your life that must be prioritised and thought through for optimal satisfaction.