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posted: 8/18/2014 6:00 AM

Your health: Natural office light linked to better health

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  • Exposure to natural light in the office positively affects employees.

    Exposure to natural light in the office positively affects employees.
    Thinkstock photo


Natural office light linked to better health

Employees with more exposure to natural light at the office sleep longer, have higher quality sleep, are more physically active, and have a better quality of life, according to new research, reports PsychCentral. The study highlights the importance of natural light to employee health, according to researchers from Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

It also spotlights the priority architects should place on creating an office environment that provides plenty of natural daylight exposure for workers, the researchers note.

In the study, researchers found that employees with windows received 173 percent more white light exposure during work hours and slept an average of 46 minutes more per night than employees who did not have natural light exposure in the workplace. There also was a trend for workers in offices with windows to be more physically active, the researchers noted.

"There is increasing evidence that exposure to light during the day, particularly in the morning, is beneficial to your health," said senior author Phyllis Zee, M.D., a Northwestern Medicine neurologist and sleep specialist.

How to recognize suicide signs

The recent death of comedian Robin Williams has focused attention on suicide and warning signs of depression.

More than 90 percent of people who commit suicide have previously struggled with substance abuse, psychotic disorders or depression, and the majority of those who seek help are treated successfully, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The most important indicator to watch for is whether someone has discussed ending his life, said Roderick Shaner, medical director for the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. Other key factors that can indicate suicidal thoughts include:

• A pattern of substance abuse, particularly if someone has recently relapsed after a period of sobriety.

• Expressing a sense of hopelessness, including saying that their problems are insurmountable or that people would be better off without them.

• Signs of depression. These can include, but aren't limited to, fatigue, insomnia, apathy, sudden weight changes, loss of attention span, or uncontrollable anger or sadness.

• Setting affairs in order.

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