Can Architecture in Glass Help You Sleep?

Published on 10th April 2014

According to psychologists, there is an epidemic of sleep disorders’[1] spreading across the western world. It sounds a little melodramatic, and is unlikely to be the subject of the next Hollywood disaster blockbuster, but sleep deprivation is a terrible thing.

There are many reasons why a person may have difficulty sleeping; pain, worry, children, uncomfortable sleep environment, all of which can be difficult to tackle. However, an increasing number of studies have revealed a further factor that significantly impacts upon the amount – and quality – of sleep that we each achieve; natural light and its effect upon our circadian rhythms.

Circadian rhythms, commonly known as the body clock, are biological, mental and behavioural patterns that follow a 24 hour cycle and respond to light and darkness within an organism’s environment. All living things work to circadian rhythms, which dictate a multitude of important bodily functions. Most of them, including the sleep-wake cycle, are influenced by the amount of natural blue light that reaches the pineal gland, via the retina. In short, without enough natural light, our brains find it difficult to work out how much sleep we should be getting, and when we should be getting it.

The older we become, the more important natural light exposure can be, as the deterioration of our eyes means that we need more light to produce the same amount of essential chemicals (serotonin and melatonin) to govern our circadian rhythms. This means that many of us suffer as a result of our lifestyles. With long working days, often in windowless spaces, in the winter months many of us can pass our working week without seeing daylight at all. As such, we become sluggish, irritable, less productive, frequently depressed and often have difficulty sleeping.

A 2013 study conducted by Chicago’s Northwestern University revealed that people who spend their days in naturally lit environments get an average of 46 minutes extra sleep per night. With increased exposure, that figure changes proportionately.

This is where conservatories come in.

Time is precious and British weather unpredictable, so while spending more time outdoors might be an obvious light-gaining solution, it’s not always practical. With an Apropos conservatory you can bask in the blue rays all year round, maximising your natural light exposure, even when it’s cloudy outside. Your brain doesn’t need it to be sunny to produce regulatory chemicals, it just needs natural light. So, whether you use it for reading, relaxing, working, dining or whatever takes your fancy, a conservatory might just be the key to increasing your much-needed shut-eye.

For a consultation with one of Apropos’ Design Experts please call: 0800 328 0033 or click here to order a copy of our latest brochure.

[1] Psychology Today.

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