To date, evidence has indicated that appropriate environmental lighting with characteristics similar to natural light can improve mood, alertness, and performance. The restorative effects of windows also have been documented. Hospital workspaces generally lack windows and daylight, and the impact of the lack of windows and daylight on healthcare employees' well being has not been thoroughly investigated.

The optimization of the physical environmental conditions for healthcare staff, especially nursing staff, may offer an opportunity to create high-performing work environments by helping staff to stay alert and productive. Environmental design that has restorative qualities and is supportive of sensitive tasks that demand focus helps caregivers work more effectively. Conversely, in working environments that are dark, monotone, and institutional, with inadequate external stimuli to help caregivers achieve their natural state of peak alertness and performance, caregivers have to struggle to stay wakeful and productive.

For this study, researchers gathered data from an acute-care nursing unit with two wards that have similar environmental and organizational conditions, and similar patient populations and acuity, but different availability of windows in the nurses' stations. The findings support evidence from laboratory and field settings of the benefits of windows and daylight. A possible micro-restorative effect of windows and daylight may result in lowered blood pressure and increased oxygen saturation and a positive effect on circadian rhythms (as suggested by body temperature) and morning sleepiness.


Edited abstract from The Impact of Windows and Daylight on Acute-Care Nurses' Physiological, Psychological, and Behavioral Health," by To access the entire report, click here to subscribe to the The Health Environments Research and Design (HERD) Journal. The HERD Journal, a sister publication to Healthcare Design, is an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal whose mission is to enhance the knowledge and practice of evidence-based healthcare design by disseminating research findings, discussing issues and trends, and translating research to practice.