Indoor annual sunlight opportunity in domestic dwellings may predict well-being in urban residents in Scotland

Vivien Swanson, Tim Sharpe, Colin Porteous, Colin Hunter, Donald Shearer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


Indoor sunlight improves health in hospitals, schools, and workplaces, and there is clinical evidence for the impact on depression. But the impact of indoor sunlight on residents? health and well-being in domestic dwellings is unclear. Understanding this relationship could have important implications for building design and residents? indoor behavior, and impacts on health. Using a cross-sectional survey, we investigated the relationship between annual indoor sunlight opportunity and psychological well-being in 40 residents of high-rise dwellings in a socioeconomically deprived area in Glasgow, Scotland. Perceived physical health, physical activity, psychological distress, and indoor environmental factors were potential mediators of the relationship between annual sunlight opportunity and wellbeing. We used novel simulation modeling of window size, orientation, occlusion, and occupant behavior to measure annual sunlight opportunity. We found a significant positive association between well-being and annual indoor sunlight opportunity but no relationship between sunlight and objective indoor environmental variables, including air quality, bacteria, and fungi. Our sample had generally poor physical and mental health. Perceived physical health, lower psychological distress, more physical activity, and better perceived environmental quality were associated with greater psychological well-being. Perceived physical health mediated the impact of sunlight on well-being. Findings merit replication in larger and more diverse samples but have important implications for building design and advice to residents on window occlusion
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-130
Number of pages10
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2016


  • architecture
  • design
  • environmental psychology
  • positive psychology


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