Shine a light on wellbeingPromotional Features
Posted by: The Probe 5th January 2018
The concept of daylight saving time, or DST, has long been a contentious subject. Although nearly all areas of North America and Europe observe it, most parts of Asia and Africa do not. In the UK, the first Daylight Saving Bill was introduced to the House of Commons in 1908, although it did not become law and DST was not adopted until 1916. Periods of deviation during World War II followed, then an experiment by the Wilson government to adopt British Summer Time (BST) all year round. This was swiftly abandoned, however, and since 1970 we have settled into changing our clocks twice a year, every six months or so, when it’s time to either ‘spring forward’ or ‘fall back’.
As we head into winter, fewer hours of natural daylight is something that most of us miss until the start of spring. After a day in surgery, performing exacting tasks, perhaps in a windowless room… it can make you feel tired, drained and miserable when you finally step outside at the end of the day and find that it’s already dark.
The extent to which daylight exposure impacts on workers is significant and has been the subject of several research projects. One study – which looked at 49 day-shift workers, 27 in windowless workplaces and 22 who had a workplace with a window – found the ‘windowless’ group reported poorer outcomes on measures of sleep quality, sleep efficiency, physical activity, daytime dysfunction and general wellbeing.[i]
It goes without saying that stress levels in a dental surgery can be excessive: phobic patients, patients with high expectations, challenging and precise procedures, unrelenting schedules, keeping on top of industry guidelines – this list is hardly exhaustive, either. A level of stress can be a good thing, spiking the adrenaline and pushing you forward in order to achieve the highest standards of care. Stress needs to be manageable, though, or it will not only impact on results, but also on your mental health. The latest estimates for work-related stress, depression or anxiety from the Labour Force Survey 2015/16 showed 488,000 cases, which equates to 11.7 million working days lost.[ii]
Spending your day under a fluorescent bulb will have a negative impact on stress levels. Eyestrain can lead to tiredness and headaches and feeling unable to perform at your best. The body’s circadian rhythm, also known as your sleep/wake cycle, is the internal clock that tells you when it’s time to feel tired or alert and it can be affected by external, environmental factors such as light. Get less natural and high-quality light and you will feel tired quicker even though you might not actually need to sleep because it’s only mid-afternoon. When quality of rest and sleep is disrupted, this becomes a source of stress and anxiety and can affect performance at work.
How to improve both the quality and quantity of sleep is a modern obsession. We can now download sleep-tracking apps and much has been written about how modern technology (smart phones and the like) has affected our ability to get a good night’s sleep. Sleep is essential for mental and physical health, as it boosts immunity and reduces the risk of certain serious medical conditions.[iii] When people are well rested they take better care of themselves too, and are more likely to take regular exercise. When you feel tired and lethargic you have less inclination to get up and move around and often choose sweet and comforting foods. More exercise and a better diet means improved mood and so the cycle continues.
Breaks and stepping outside during daylight hours are important and should be encouraged for all members of staff. The lighting that you install in your practice is fundamental too. Dentists need effective lighting solutions that mimic natural light as much as possible. Even if your surgery has a window, visibility into the oral cavity needs to be optimised. More practices are switching over to LED lighting, for the comprehensive list of benefits it offers. Long-lasting, durable, low-voltage and eco-friendly; LEDs offer advantages over most other artificial light sources and are suitable for the dental setting. For an ergonomic, accurate lighting solution, the A-dec 300 LED Light will flood the oral dental cavity with light and offer accurate illumination, with an intensity of up to 25,000 Lux. Look for the highest-quality lighting for your surgery and you will not only reduce eye-strain and fatigue, allowing for a safe and healthy work environment, but you will also facilitate consistently accurate diagnoses.
Even if we welcome the turn of the seasons, as the nights draw in we should be mindful of how light exposure and the lighting levels in the workplace can impact on our productivity, mood, vitality and quality of life. Not all dentists are lucky enough to have a room with a view; working in a high-stress surgery environment and often in isolation, it’s important to source the highest-quality lighting solutions you can find.
For more information about A-dec Dental UK Ltd, visit
www.a-dec.co.uk or call on 0800 2332 85
[i] Boubekri M, Cheung IN, Reid KJ, Wang CH, Zee PC. Impact of windows and daylight exposure on overall health and sleep quality of office workers: a case-control pilot study. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine: JCSM: official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. 2014 Jun 15; 10 (6): 603.
[iii] NHS Choices. Why lack of sleep is bad for your health. Link: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/tiredness-and-fatigue/Pages/lack-of-sleep-health-risks.aspx (accessed September 2017).
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