What Sitting at a Desk All Day is Doing to Your Body

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deskBy Tyra Seldon

As adults, some of us would probably love to sneak in a quick nap. We may also find ourselves tempted to yawn at the most inopportune times throughout the day. Normal parts of the aging process, right? Not necessarily, according to a recent study in Current Biology

Researchers observed eight people for a week engaging in their normal routines. They then observed the same group doing more leisure activities outside  like camping. While camping they were not exposed to any artificial light. Their light source came directly from the sun or the camp fire. In addition, they were not allowed to access any technology—no cell phones, tablets, laptops—the entire time they were camping.

After two weeks of observing the participants in the study, researchers checked the melatonin levels of the participants. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that regulates a person’s sleeping and waking cycles. In other words, it determines how one’s internal clock, or circadian rhythms, measure night and day.

Even if it is noon, if your body thinks that it is midnight, you will find yourself unusually tired. Why? According to the study, most women do not get enough natural light. With most women’s hectic work and personal schedules, they find themselves indoors, in an office setting and surrounded by the artificial light that illuminates from computers, televisions, phones, tablets, LED lights and other forms of technology.

According to Women’s Health Magazine, women can find simple, readily accessible solutions: “In fact, making small, ongoing lifestyle tweaks is going to be way more beneficial since it’ll make a bigger difference in the long-term. Basically, you want to give your body as much exposure to natural light—and as little exposure to artificial light—as possible to mimic al fresco living. So open the curtains as soon as you wake up (or better yet, go for an early-morning run), get outside during the day whenever you can, and make an effort to power down (or at least dim the lights) once the sun’s set.”

A simple walk in a park or around the parking lot during lunch or driving with the sunroof open can also help expose you to more natural light. These are small steps that will help to reset your internal clock. So the next time you find yourself yawning in the middle of the day, head towards the source of some natural light.

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