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Student Class


Student Affiliation

Senior Honors Thesis

Author ORCID Identifier

First Advisor

Charles Crabtree

First Advisor Department

Department of Government


While existing literature predominantly deals with the impact of daylight on adults in general and more specifically at the workplace, less is known about its impact on the college student demographic and daylight exposure levels at college residences. Given its considerable impact on both the physical and mental well-being of individuals, daylight has been used in the treatment of an assortment of diseases from seasonal affective disorder to depression. With college students constituting the majority of today’s people who suffer from mental health issues in society, uncovering the link between daylight exposure and its impact on the physical and mental wellbeing of these students specifically, will enable harnessing of the benefits of daylight, and potentially alleviate the ongoing mental health crisis in college populations. In this study, I use a series of regression analyses and instrumental variable estimations to ascertain the link between exposure to daylight and its impact on both the physical (SF-36 scale), and mental (PHQ-9, GAD-7, and PSQI scales) well-being of a cohort of Dartmouth undergraduates (N=344), who vary in terms of their daylight exposure levels. In particular, I differentiate between two scales of daylight exposure levels, namely a subjective daylight exposure scale which reflects college students’ self-assessment of their level of daylight exposure, and an objective daylight exposure scale that reflects a more objective assessment of their level of daylight exposure within their college housing. Results provide some support for the hypotheses that higher levels of daylight exposure lead to both better mental and physical health outcomes. However, further instrumental variable estimation using the objective daylight exposure scale as an instrument proves that this estimated causal effects are statistically insignificant or imprecise, despite controlling for confounding factors. Ultimately, there is not enough evidence to support a causal relationship between the daylight exposure treatment and the health outcomes. This does not necessarily mean that there is no causal effect between daylight exposure and the physical and mental well-being of college students, but rather, that the available data and methods used in this study do not provide convincing enough evidence to prove causation.

Publication Date



Daylight, Mental Health, Physical Health, College Students, College Housing, Circadian Rhythms, SF-36, PHQ-9, GAD-7, PSQI


Cognitive Neuroscience | Cognitive Science

Effects Of Daylight On Student Well-being


Available to Dartmouth community via local IP address.