Opinion: How cortisol is controlling your day

Kyle Fitch

The environment plays a role in our lives every single day.

Why would things like light and air temperature cause your life to change? How can the color of a room make you smile, the music behind a conversation engage you and different smells fill you with nostalgia?

The hormone cortisol brings about these somber, joyful and passionate thoughts.

Cortisol peaks in your body around 8 a.m., reaching a low at approximately 11 p.m.

Air temperatures can also change the way you think. A room temperature below 68 degrees Fahrenheit is shown to double the amount of errors made by a worker. A room at 77 degrees is thought to be the optimal working temperature, and gave workers the longest amount of productivity with the smallest amount of errors.

Along with temperature, lighting has a significant effect on our our day processes — for example, steering clear of direct fluorescent lighting can help you operate at your peak potential. It can, and will, drain a person of energy after long periods of time.

Workers who step outside to experience warmth and natural sunlight will perform beyond expectations.

How can people use this to better life? They can figure out the best conditions to be productive, but how productive is that? Is the human dependence on technology correlated? Will we one day be able to turn a “lazy Suzy” into a “productive Patty” with the right environment?

Experiments may be the way to go about testing legitimacy of ideas. In theory, if going the route of experiment-based studies and just observing to collect data, this could take a large amount of time, but could yield fascinating results.

The idea would be to find the perfect habitat for human equilibrium, creating environments in which we slow the flow of cortisol in the brain. This, in turn, will slow the effects of feeling stressed and overworked. If researchers adequately executed this, they could find the triggers to more productive workers.

Factors of our daily lives that seem commonplace drive our daily performance, but think: The environments you’ve been subjected to in the last 24 hours may just be dictating how you feel at this very moment.

Kyle Fitch is a columnist. Contact him at [email protected].