Patients with bipolar disorder in rooms with windows facing east (vs west) left a hospital sooner.

Patients in rooms with windows facing east received beneficial morning doses of light therapy without anyone intending, or even realizing, that at the time. Since then, controlled studies have confirmed this explanation. (See below for more information.)

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3 thoughts on “Patients with bipolar disorder in rooms with windows facing east (vs west) left a hospital sooner.

  1. Is there any more info to this fast fact? Where was this witnessed? Was it a documented study? By whom?

    Supporting material for this morsel of info would be very helpful.

    1. Florence Nightingale originally observed that patients in rooms facing east left the hospital sooner than patients in rooms facing other directions. She kept statistics on this since she was very concerned with outcome measures.

      In 2001, Francesco Benedetti, MD, and colleagues published, “Morning sunlight reduces length of hospitalization in bipolar depression” in the Journal of Affective Disorders. (Abstract here.)

      They retrospectively recorded the length of hospitalization for a sample of 415 unipolar inpatients (inpatients with major depression) and 187 bipolar depressed inpatients assigned to rooms with windows facing east or west. Inpatients with bipolar disorder left the hospital 3.67 days sooner if their windows faced east. Window direction did not affect the length of stay for patients with unipolar depression.

      Increasingly, we are realizing that bipolar disorder has a strong circadian component. Consequently, treatments that help patients regulate their circadian rhythms, such as lithium, and interpersonal and social rhythm therapy, are helpful. And of course, exposure to bright light in the morning helps people in general–not just those with bipolar disorder–reset their circadian rhythms every day!

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