Wanting to increase our productivity at work is a running theme for business professionals. For as long as there have been executives, there have been discussions, workshops, and countless books written about the subject of increasing productivity in the workplace.
Now, researchers are actively working on what could be the ultimate productivity hack that could dramatically increase work output by manipulating circadian rhythms, the body’s natural cycles that determine your most wakeful hours and help your body to identify when it should be sleeping.
Recently, there has been an influx of lighting features that have gone to market that cater to and promote the body’s circadian rhythms. The lighting applications help support health and well-being in people. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, people living in metropolitan areas can spend more than ninety percent of their lives indoors, away from natural light in the environment.
Years of testing have proven that people overall are sensitive to blue lights. When we’re outdoors, blue is the primary color we see around us. It has the ability to suppress melatonin, a chemical in the brain that aids in our ability to fall asleep. It’s used medicinally in its natural state as an over the counter and prescription sleep aid.
An investigation by Christian Cajochen, head of the Center of Chronobiology at the University of Basel, worked with a team of volunteers that were exposed to computers that were backlit with blue-based LED lights for five hours in the evening. The result of that testing indicated that the volunteers felt less tired because they produced less melatonin than they would naturally. The increased alertness allowed them to perform better on tests as compared to others who sat in front of fluorescent lights that were the same size and gave off the same level of brightness.
Studies like that have prompted researchers to advise office decorators to include as much blue light like that seen in daylight hours in the offices they design.
More and more office designers have caught on to this trend, and employers are pleased with the results they’ve witnessed in their offices.
Those same studies and many others have promoted to people outside of offices too. It’s become common practice for physicians and practitioners of varied disciplines to advise their clients to stick to natural cycles in life, meaning keep exposure to bright light at night to a minimum so as not to disturb their circadian rhythm and help promote alertness when in the workplace. That includes the use of devices which are so prominent in our everyday lives. From computer screens to Smartphones and tablets, people are always connected, and their brains are almost always on. The constant use and exposure to harmful lights exacerbate our sleep disorders, especially in the young, but not exclusive to adolescents. It’s becoming increasingly popular in young adults and adults.
The takeaway from this extensive research is to limit our exposure to the blue daylight lighting and ensure we work in more red-based nighttime lights for optimum productivity.