Daylight is the best medicine, for nurses

August 4, 2014 by Melissa Osgood

For the health and happiness of nurses – and for the best care of hospital patients – new Cornell research suggests exposure to natural light may be the best medicine.

In a forthcoming Cornell study published in the journal Health Environments Research and Design, Rana Zadeh, assistant professor of design and environmental analysis, discovered who had access to natural light enjoyed significantly lower blood pressure, communicated more often with their colleagues, laughed more and served their patients in better moods than nurses who settled for large doses of artificial light.

Letting natural light into the nurses' workstations offered improved alertness and mood restoration effects. "The increase in positive sociability, as measured by the occurrence of frequent laughter, was … significant," noted Zadeh in the paper.

Nurses work long shifts, during non-standardized hours. They work on demanding and sensitive tasks and their alertness is connected to both staff and patient safety. Past evidence indicates natural light and views have restorative effects on people both physiologically and psychologically. Maximizing access to natural daylight and providing quality lighting design in nursing areas may be an opportunity to improve safety though and enable staff to manage sleepiness, work in a better mood and stay alert, according to Zadeh.

"Nurses save lives and deal with complications every day. It can be a very intense and stressful work environment, which is why humor and a good mood are integral to the nursing profession," Zadeh said. "As a nurse, it's an art to keep your smile – which helps ensure an excellent connection to patients. A smart and affordable way to bring positive mood – and laughter – into the workplace, is designing the right workspace for it."

Access to , and a nice view to outside, should be provided for clinical workspace design, said Zadeh. In situations where natural light is not possible, she suggests optimizing electric lighting in terms of spectrum, intensity and variability to support circadian rhythms and work performance.

"The physical environment in which the caregivers on critical tasks should be designed to support a high-performing and healthy clinical staff," she said " improving the physiological and psychological wellbeing of healthcare staff, by designing the right workspace, can directly benefit the organization's outcomes".

Explore further: Environmental design Rx for RN workplaces

More information: "The Impact of Windows and Daylight on Acute-Care Nurses' Physiological, Psychological, and Behavioral Health," Health Environments Research and Design, 2014.

Related Stories

Environmental design Rx for RN workplaces

February 20, 2014
Recruiting and retaining nurses might be easier if hospital workplaces were more hospitable, reports a team of environmental design specialists who offer a 10-point prescription for those hardworking medical professionals.

Researchers improve medical units to reduce nursing fatigue, cut costs

January 30, 2013
In hospitals, poor floor design, storage closet clutter and crowded corridors can contribute to nurse and medical staff fatigue. These distractions can hurt patient care quality and result in higher medical costs.

Physical work environment in hospitals affects nurses' job satisfaction

July 23, 2014
Study finds architecture, interior design, and other physical aspects of their work environments can enhance early-career nurses' job satisfaction.

Blue light may fight fatigue around the clock

February 3, 2014
Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) have found that exposure to short wavelength, or blue light, during the biological day directly and immediately improves alertness and performance. These findings are published ...

Better use of lighting in hospital rooms may improve patients' health

October 30, 2013
A new study suggests that changing the lighting patterns in hospital rooms so that they're more aligned with normal sleep-wake cycles could help patients feel better with less fatigue and pain. Published early online in the ...

Violence towards ER nurses not uncommon

July 11, 2014
(HealthDay)—It is not uncommon for nurses to experience violence while providing care in the emergency room, according to a study published in the July issue of the Journal of Emergency Nursing.

Recommended for you

Why sugary drinks and protein-rich meals don't go well together

July 20, 2017
Having a sugar-sweetened drink with a high-protein meal may negatively affect energy balance, alter food preferences and cause the body to store more fat, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Nutrition.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

High-dose vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles for children

July 18, 2017
Giving children high doses of vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles, a new study has found.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.