Daylight is best medicine for nurses

In a forthcoming Cornell study…Rana Zadeh, assistant professor of design and environmental analysis, discovered nurses 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 environmental design and enable staff to manage sleepiness, work in a better mood and stay alert, according to Zadeh…

Access to natural daylight, 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.

Yes, I know most folks would consider this an automatic goal. Tell that to some of the Scrooges who manage hospitals and clinics as if they paid for each lightbulb and window from their own pocket.

5 thoughts on “Daylight is best medicine for nurses

  1. Corbusier says:

    Re: reduced window space, interesting to note how the architectural design of schools changed after the civil unrest that occurred on some college campuses during the Vietnam war.

  2. St. Victims says:

    (11/26/14): According to Santa Fe New Mexico police a nurse was found passed out in a hospital bathroom with a needle in his arm and wearing lipstick. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/santa-fe-nurse-found-needle-arm-hospital-police-article-1.2025370 The nurse also had Morphine, Ketamine and Lorazepam in his possession when he was discovered and a “large amount” of narcotics was missing from the hospital’s drug system, hospital security told police. Hospital staff said they were concerned {the nurse} may have improperly treated a disorderly patient who was later found unresponsive. A container of Ketamine was found in the patient’s room even though she did not have a prescription for it.”

  3. Ahura says:

    Shockingly, research has shown a dramatic increase in the number of students leaving secondary school with short-sightedness, or myopia, and a new study published in the Journal Perspectives in Public Health, published by SAGE, suggests lighting in schools could be a factor. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-03/sp-aos032415.php Includes link to “Myopia and daylight in schools: a neglected aspect of public health?”

  4. Light fantastic says:

    “Following up on promising results from pilot work, researchers at the VA Boston Healthcare System are testing the effects of light therapy on brain function in veterans with Gulf War Illness.” http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-04/varc-clt040215.php The therapy, though still considered “investigational” and not covered by most health insurance plans, is already used by some alternative medicine practitioners to treat wounds and pain. The light from the diodes has been shown to boost the output of nitric oxide near where the LEDs are placed, which improves blood flow in that location.
    “We are applying a technology that’s been around for a while,” says lead investigator Dr. Margaret Naeser, “but it’s always been used on the body, for wound healing and to treat muscle aches and pains, and joint problems. We’re starting to use it on the brain.” The LED therapy increases blood flow in the brain, as shown on MRI scans. It also appears to have an effect on damaged brain cells, specifically on their mitochondria. These are bean-shaped subunits within the cell that put out energy in the form of a chemical known as ATP. The red and near-infrared light photons penetrate through the skull and into brain cells and spur the mitochondria to produce more ATP. That can mean clearer, sharper thinking, says Naeser.
    See article for other VA and U.S. Army funded trials of the LED therapy.

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