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The Importance of Natural Daylight in Athletic Facilities

Daylight in Athletic Facilities

In our previous articles on the importance of daylighting we have looked at the impact in general as well as schools and healthcare related buildings specifically. Next we turn our attention to athletic facilities.

Athletics are an important part of American culture and society. Athletes often live completely in the public eye and are viewed as heroes. How do they climb the ranks and become stars of the sports world? Obviously, there is an immense amount of talent and training involved – but what role does sunlight play in their success as sportsmen? There isn’t much research around this topic yet, but let’s draw some educated conclusions based on what we know about daylighting strategies and effects.

One of the most established benefits of receiving the proper amount of sunlight is better sleep. The body’s natural clock – or circadian rhythm – relies on sunlight to stay in tune. This circadian rhythm dictates sleep cycles and energy levels throughout the day.[1] If an individual receives enough sunlight during the day, then they fall asleep easily and at a decent time. They also tend to stay asleep through the night, and feel more refreshed when they wake up. This is due to the fact that individuals who get enough sunlight enter deeper sleep, which is more restful.[2] It is also helpful to note that the body heals during sleep. According to WebMD, “during the deep stages of NREM sleep, the body repairs and regrows tissues, builds bone and muscle, and strengthens the immune system.”[3]

Obviously, when you get more restful sleep, you have more energy throughout the day. This is especially important when athletes are involved. They train and practice and perform day in and day out, which requires immense amounts of energy. If an athlete were to get poor sleep or stay out of the sunlight, their energy levels would plummet [4] and their performance would drop off as a result. It is important for athletes to garner as much energy as possible, so they may perform at the top of their game. A highly energized athlete performs better, is more charismatic, and also more likely to rebound from a disappointing performance.

Daylighting in athletic facilities also allows athletes moods to be bolstered. [5] This is an extremely necessary aspect of the life of a public figure. A heightened mood allows the athlete to have a thicker skin in response to losses and criticism from their peers and also the public. Athletes who do not receive adequate exposure to natural light would be more prone to mood swings and depression. These lower moods would affect their public image as well as their performance. It may even lead to termination from their team. Lowered moods clearly are at the top of a very slippery slope, which leads to a plethora of problems. A proper daylighting strategy is an effective preventative measure that athletes can take to avoid sliding down it.[5]

As stated earlier, good sleep leads to healing the body. Athletes are always at risk of both minor and major injury. They push their bodies to be in peak condition. Of course, damage is nearly inevitable. Exposure to natural light has been proven to lessen the need for pain medication [6] and shortens hospital stays by 16-41%.[6] This accelerated healing allows players to get back to their teams faster and allows them to get back to performing their roles on that team. An injury can lead to depression as well, which daylighting can also combat. [7]

So, based on the evidence of the benefits of daylighting, we can draw an educated conclusion: a proper and effective daylighting strategy in athletic facilities would improve the well-being and performance of athletes. They would sleep better, have more energy, be happier, and recover from injuries faster. If you’re interested in developing a daylighting strategy based on this conclusion, Suntuitive Dynamic Glass can help! Visit www.Suntuitive.com or call 616.662.7216 for more information.

Sources:

  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201306/exposure-natural-light-improves-workplace-performance
  2. http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/sleep-101
  3. http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy02osti/30769.pdf
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25424517
  5. http://www.webmd.com/brain/news/20140814/employees-benefit-from-natural-light-study-finds
  6. 6.http://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/Daylight_benefits_in_healthcare_buildings
  7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4031400/ 

Sources consulted:

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