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How to sleep: Your work set-up could determine the quality of your sleep – tips

Doctor explains why you should ‘never sleep in the nude’

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It is estimated up to a third of Britons have trouble getting a good night’s sleep, with 41 percent claiming it happens occasionally, rarely of never. The 24-hours environment in which humans live is divided into light and darkness patterns, and together these affect the body’s circadian rhythm. Sunlight exposure is one of the key factors controlling our body clocks and sleep patterns. Where you spend your working hours could therefore determine your chances of dozing off effortlessly in the evening.

There is a growing body of research highlighting the effects that light may have on the human physiology.

Studies have found that sun exposure may be an important component of our body clock, and that exposure to light during waking hours could a strong determinant of sleep patterns.

Furthermore, technological advancements have fuelled a rise in screen exposure. The artificial blue light emitted by screens has been shown to suppress melatonin production, the hormone that induces sleepiness.

A study warned that a lack of light exposure during the work hours could hinder the quality and duration of sleep.

READ MORE: How to sleep: Expert shares how much sleep you really need for best cognitive performance

To analyse the effects of sun exposure on sleep patterns, researchers looked at two different cohorts, one comprising of 27 employees working in windowless office environments, and the other including 22 employees in workplaces with significantly more daylight.

Actigraphy recordings measuring light exposure, activity and sleep-wake patterns, were able to monitor the duration and quality of sleep patterns.

Researchers observed: “Both the amount and timing of light exposure is important for physical and mental health.

“While research indicated possible links between light exposure in the workplaces and works’ productivity and performance, less is know about the role of workplace light exposure on workers’ quality of life and sleep quality. “

Findings revealed that office workers reported poorer overall sleep quality compared to their counterparts.

Compared to the group without windows, workers with windows at the workplace had more light exposure during the workweek.

The actigraphy also determined that this group was more likely to undertake more physical activity and experience longer sleep duration.

The study suggested light could be used as an effective and noninvasive therapeutic option with little to no side effects to improve the quality of sleep.

Researchers said sunlight exposure could also be used to improve mood and general wellbeing.

They concluded: “Office workers with more light exposure at the workplace tended to have longer sleep duration, better sleep quality, more physical activity, and better quality of life, compared to office workers with less light exposure at the workplace.

“Office workers’ physical and mental well-being may be improved with enhanced indoor lighting for those with insufficient daylight and mental well-being may be improved via enhanced indoor lighting for those with insufficient daylight in current offices as well as increased emphasis on light exposure in the design of future offices.”

Research suggest humans sleep in cycles of 90 minutes, with stages shifting from one to another over the course of the night.

These cycles range from being dominated by non-rapid eye movement sleep, which includes the deep slow-wave sleep phase, to being dominated by rapid eye movement sleep, when our most vivid dreaming usually occurs.

Furthermore, sleeplessness could be linked to a host of health conditions, including type 2 diabetes and cancer.

Previous studies have found that adults of 45 or over who sleep less than six hours a night are 200 percent more likely to have heart attack or stroke compared to those who sleep seven or eight hours.

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