At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the LRC (Lighting Research Center) is investigating the effects of working from home or quarantining indoors on individual daily light exposure, and how this may be affecting sleep quality and psychological health.
Last month the LRC invited people who had been staying home due to the pandemic to complete a short survey about their sleep, mood, and daily light exposure. A total of 708 people responded to the survey. LRC researchers analysed the data to understand how daily indoor light exposure, time spent outside, and time of day spent outside affected sleep quality, sleep-related impairment, anxiety, stress, depression, and mood.
The findings: daily indoor light exposure and time spent outside had a major impact on all survey outcomes including sleep disturbance, sleep-related impairment, anxiety, stress, depression, and mood. Compared to people with “somewhat dim” to “very dim” indoor lighting, people with “somewhat bright” to “very bright” lighting, including having windows without (or with open) curtains or shades, or having indoor lights turned on, reported fewer sleep disturbances, less anxiety and depression, happier and more positive feelings generally with less tiredness and irritability, and less sleep impairment.
Lead researcher Charles Jarboe says “Sleep quality and mood significantly improved when people spent the majority of their time in a brighter, compared to dimmer, location in their homes. If you can add a little more light to your space during the day—one extra lamp, or open your window shades, for example, it could help you feel better and improve your sleep”.