Tag: insomnia depression

If You Build It: Can Our Offices Impact Our Sleep?

For those who work outside the home, you spend more time in a potentially cold, square building than you do in your comfortable home. The average person works 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. That’s a lot of time to spend out of the house. We all know that the relationships we have at work can influence our home lives, but can the buildings themselves hold any power over how we sleep or how we feel after we’ve punched out for the day? The answer to that is a bit astounding:

The key to working better, sleeping better, and feeling better could be rooted in the design, maintenance, and operation of the buildings where we spend the majority of our time, a new Harvard study has found.

The national study, conducted by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Health and the Global Environment (CHGE) and SUNY Upstate Medical, is the first to show that working in high-performing, green-certified buildings can improve employee decision-making using objective cognitive simulations.

Researchers looked at 10 high-performing buildings in five cities across the United States, including Harvard’s double LEED Platinum Blackstone Southbuilding. The team collaborated with the Office for Sustainability (OFS) and Harvard Real Estate to use Blackstone as a “living laboratory” to study the relationship between building conditions and occupants’ productivity and well-being.

The study found that occupants in high-performing, green-certified office environments scored 26 percent higher on tests of cognitive function, had 30 percent fewer symptoms of sick building syndrome, and had 6 percent higher sleep quality scores than those in high-performing but noncertified buildings.

“Our University is the perfect test bed for innovation and research related to buildings and health. Through our partnership with the Office for Sustainability, we were able to kick off our study at the Blackstone buildings at Harvard before scaling our research to four other cities across the U.S.” said Piers MacNaughton, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Chan School and project manager for the study.

Twenty-four Harvard employees agreed to participate in the weeklong health assessment, which included two cognitive function tests, daily surveys, and wearing watches that tracked sleep quality. On each testing day, environmental conditions, such as thermal conditions and lighting, were also monitored in each participants’ workspace.

In addition to the overall effect from being in a better building, several specific factors were found to have impacts on participants’ cognitive function scores. The high-performing, green-certified buildings used in the study had environments more frequently within the thermal comfort zone defined by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) organization, which resulted in 5.4 percent higher cognitive function scores. Brighter, blue-enriched lighting, such as daylighting, in the green-certified buildings was also associated with better sleep quality at night, which in turn led to better cognitive performance the following day. This finding supports research showing the impacts of lighting on circadian rhythm; a bigger contrast in daytime and nighttime light exposures can help regulate the release of melatonin, the hormone responsible for inducing sleep.

Via: http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/02/study-opens-the-door-to-better-sleep-work-and-health/

It seems that no matter how hard we try to keep our work lives and our home lives separate, it’s interesting to see how the buildings that we actually work in can have such an impact on more than just our productivity. If you’re feeling extra sleepy at work, maybe you need to anonymously forward this study to your boss. Small changes like light and greenery can have such a huge impact on how we work and what we can accomplish. If you’ve got that boss whose constantly riding everyone and demanding production be sped up, this may be something they need to consider. Instead of that corner office for themselves, maybe they need to look at changing those lightbulbs.

Suicidal Thoughts and Sleep Problems: A Deadly Combination

depressionHave you ever wondered what happens while you sleep? It’s simple really: your brain cells replenish, your body grows and your mental state resets for the day ahead. There are recommended hours of sleep for specific age groups for a reason. The younger you are the more your body needs to develop and therefore the more sleep you need. Ignoring your sleep, like most teenagers and young adults do, can impact your health in ways you probably haven’t thought about before.

There are various disorders that can affect your sleep like insomnia, sleep apnea and snoring but did you know sleeplessness can severely impact those suffering from depression? Depression on it’s own can be a debilitating illness. Couple that with sleeplessness and you’re facing a huge wall:

The link between sleep problems and suicidal thoughts and behaviors is made starkly clear in new research from The University of Manchester, published in the BMJ Open.

In this study, conducted by researchers from the University’s School of Health Sciences alongside the University of Oxford, 18 participants were interviewed about the role sleep problems have on suicidal tendencies.

Three inter-related pathways to suicidal thoughts were identified arising from sleep problems. The first was that being awake at night heightened the risks of suicidal thoughts and attempts, which in part was seen as a consequence of the lack of help or resources available at night.

Secondly, the research found that a prolonged failure to achieve a good night’s sleep made life harder for respondents, adding to depression, as well as increasing negative thinking, attention difficulties and inactivity.

Finally, respondents said sleep acted as an alternative to suicide, providing an escape from their problems. However, the desire to use sleep as an avoidance tactic led to increased day time sleeping which in turn caused disturbed sleeping patterns – reinforcing the first two pathways.

Via: http://www.news-medical.net/news/20160824/Night-time-sleep-problems-increase-risk-of-suicidal-thoughts-and-attempts.aspx

If you or someone you know suffers from depression you are most likely painfully aware of how difficult it can be to lead a normal life. There are plenty of treatments available, with or without medication, that can make depression manageable. But it’s difficult to completely get rid of it. When your enemy is your own mind it’s very difficult to win the war.

When you can’t sleep, you can’t quiet your mind. The dark thoughts tend to plague you in the night when you’re defenseless. Human beings are not meant to be nocturnal. We’re meant to sleep in the night and be productive in the day. Failure to adhere to this causes disruptions in our sleep patterns and makes it difficult to function as a member of society.

That is not to say that those who work strictly at night aren’t productive. Those who work during the night tend to sleep during the day for the recommended number of hours they are supposed to be getting. That’s completely different than someone who sporadically sleeps during the day in order to recover from the loss of sleep during the night.

Those who suffer from depression need to make sure they are sleeping properly. It may help to keep a sleep journal and log the amount of time, and when, they are actually sleeping and take it to their health care provider. If their sleep is too fragmented their health care provider can suggest other ways to obtain a consistent amount of sleep. What is the underlying sleep problem? Does the patient suffer from sleep apnea or snoring? There are simple ways to manage those disorders. The more information you can bring in with you to a medical appointment the better your health care provider can help you.

Let’s all try to get the best sleep we can to keep the dark thoughts at bay.